The first reviews of Beck Hansen’s Modern Guilt seemed to conclude that he’d finally emerged from some sort of creative rut.  This was the first I’d heard of it; I thought Sea Change, Guero and The Information were all solid.  However it is true that although these albums were good, none of them were outstanding.  It’s also true that Modern Guilt is a superior album, due largely to its consistency.  Where previous albums had fairly drastic highs and lows (I’m thinking of The Information’s fantastic ‘Think I’m In Love’ and average and unnecessarily long ‘The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton’), Modern Guilt is a tight and considered affair, with few of the failings that have marked many a Beck album.  If Beck has been consistent with one thing though, it’s reinvention.  Each Beck album is different from the last; one only needs to looks at the vast chasm between Mutations and Midnite Vultures, two albums that were released within a year of each other.  After the pure pop moments that frequented 2006’s The Information, Modern Guilt rings with an air of sixties lo-fi psychedelia.  In this, the production of Gnarl’s Barkley’s Dangermouse is spot-on.  Famous for The Grey Album and Dangerdoom, as well as Gnarls, one might be apprehensive as to how Dangermouse would handle an artist whose talent has often been in subtleties.  But Dangermouse shows he knows when to step back, and as a result his production is the perfect compliment to Beck's eccentricities, rather than an unwelcome intrusion. Beck often seems over concerned with apocalyptic-type environments.  On the upbeat ‘Gamma Ray’, one of the best tracks here, Hansen sings ‘If I could hold/hold out for now/with these icecaps melting down…Your brains are bored/like a refugee from a house that's burning/And the heat wave's calling your name”.  Obviously concerned with global warming, if these lyrics were by anyone else (e.g. Bono or Chris Martin) they would likely seem clichéd and patronizing.  But one of Modern Guilt’s strengths is that almost all of the lyrics are pervaded by a sense of personal cynicism and despair.  Indeed, the record might become depressing, if they weren’t so often backed with such a catchy soundtrack.  This is his eighth full length, yet it doesn’t remotely seem like Beck is running out of ideas.   To the contrary, Modern Guilt is one of the best albums Beck has ever made.  Both understated and poppy, it’s one of those rare albums which withstands repeated listens, whilst also being instantaneously likeable.