Sound — 10
More like Mutations, but still completely different than anything he's ever done, this album is his most straight-forward yet complicated yet. His use of strings to accompany his sometimes simple guitar is beautiful, but it is on songs like Paper Tiger, Round the Bend and Lonesome Tears where the music fully comes together, building up then slowing down again. The music sometimes speaks louder than the words, showing a man trying his best to become stronger and get over his lost love, but ultimately (when the music becomes slow again) failing, and falling back into the harsh reality. But even with all these strings and build ups, it is never too much or too melodramatic. Beck knows exactly when to start and exactly when to stop, and just what amount of strings/harmonica/guitar to use at any given time. He's a musical genius, that's pretty much it.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics of this album, in my opinion, are better than any Beck has written before. Although it has been said his witty lyrics have been thrown away for more conventional ones, it cannot be denied that these are lyrics completely sincere and true. This is a break up album, so what can be expected? The Golden Age, Paper Tiger and Round the Bend are stand-outs for me. The first is a simple, slow, incredible song chronicling the ups and downs of love, and the Paper Tiger is amazing in it's depth, which the music adds so much to, with the slow bass starting it off, and slowly building up and up. The last four lines are enough to leave you numb with amazement. Round the Bend is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, in all honesty.
Overall Impression — 10
That said some may find this album hard to listen to as it is so different than his other earlier work, and some do find it too depressing but, if it is given a chance, it can be said that this is ultimately an uplifting album and not just made to show a man's sadness. If this was true the listener would feel isolated from the lyrics and music and find it contrived (like a lot of music these days), but this not the case. It truly feels like Beck is singing to you alone, and in doing so, sounds like he is telling you how to deal with heartbreak and sadness over lost love and ultimately to overcome it to find new love (maybe in Little One?) Don't listen to people who say it is too depressing, don't let them turn you off it, because this is truly a masterpiece of an album.