(Read the That’s My Jam manifesto here.)
I seem to be one of the few Beck fans that finds his latest offering, Morning Phase, to be disappointing. There’s a lot of “Ooh, it’s Mutations II” kind of comments out there. Love Mutations. Love it. But I’m not sure why I needed a second one.
To me, Beck’s at his most interesting when I’m hearing something I’ve never heard before. When Loser hit, it was crazy. There was nothing – and still pretty much is nothing – that sounded like it. The acoustic guitar kick off, rolling quickly into a hip-hop beat. Beck’s slightly nasal, stream-of-consciousness lyrical madness. “In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey.” As a whole, Mellow Gold is really a heavier, guitar freak-out disc, Loser being the “soft” track. But all of it is unique, a treat for the ear.
Then Beck does it again with Odelay, an album that throws everything at the wall to see what sticks, then finds out that pretty much everything sticks. Devil’s Haircut might be one of the unlikeliest hits of all times, an easier-going Loser II that devolves into chaos, feedback and screaming. Not content to make the same thing twice, Beck pulls the rope-a-dope, lulling you with the familiar until he unleashes a sonic haymaker to blow your damn mind.
So you can have your middle-age, “the return of the singer-songwriter” Beck. I’ll take the Beck who looked at the music industry, laughed and then danced of the graves of genres he put to sleep.