Beck’s Poignant Mumbling on “Youthless”

On Beck’s new album, Modern Guilt, the stalwart songwriter’s observations about aimlessness and melancholy are as simple and understated as his singing voice; at times they’re even passive. In “Youthless,” a lament of lifeless exurbs and “logo towns,” he sings:

And this life it goes by fast
You’re treading water in the past
Trying to re-animate something that you can’t understand

Buried in the bridge, these throwaway lines come off as placeholders for the song’s structure that never got rewritten. But Beck’s marble-mouthed delivery also makes it easy to overlook his more poignant imagery:

Hang your clothes on a chain link fence
In a junkyard say amen

This is his distopia. Wire coat hangers become industrial fencing; all other possessions are an undistinguishable mass of litter. And Beck, an insomniac who needs “a teleprompter for my life,” can barely summon the voice to tell it.

MP3: Beck – “Youthless”

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