After the electro-bump of 1999's Midnite Vultures, this chameleon-like singer/tunesmith returns with a set of introspective, acoustic-based compositions.

After the electro-bump of 1999's Midnite Vultures, this chameleon-like singer/tunesmith returns with a set of introspective, acoustic-based compositions. Fans of his uptempo brand of pop may initially be startled by the stark, somber tone of Sea Change, as much of the material barely rises above a gentle shuffle beat. While Beck has previously dabbled in acoustic fare, this project shows him take similarly raw ideas and bring them to full realization. Producer Nigel Goodrich helps him flesh out tunes like "Lonesome Tears" and "Round the Bend" into glorious epics, replete with sumptuous string arrangements. Beck has rarely performed with such maturity and confidence, breathing a rich, often haunting baritone into songs that seem to follow a plotline thread of despair after the end of a relationship. Easily one of the best releases of 2002, Sea Change shows Beck seriously raising the bar for himself and others around him.—LF