Have I ever done a post on Beck? I don’t think so. Let’s give it a quick go, then.
I like Beck’s music, but his discography is so riddled with restless genre exercises and lyrical (and musical) meanderings that it makes it really difficult to love Beck’s music. Like everyone else I was first introduced to his music via “loser”, and like everyone else I thought of Beck at that time as a one-hit novelty act. Then along came Odelay, an amazingly fresh and innovative selection of folk, indie rock and hip hop that really blew my mind and remains to this day in my top 100 albums of all time. His next proper album, Midnight Vultures, was a discofied genre exercise that was, for the most part, really successful and is his most ‘fun’ album to date.
Although Sea Change is heralded as Beck’s masterpiece I have found it to be a boring, albeit sometimes beautiful sounding, record. To me it sounds like Beck’s attempt at proving to the world that he is a serious artist. “Look ma! Real songs!” Beck is a miserable bastard on Sea Change and it comes through in the music. It is his Blood On The Tracks, another album I have never really been able to embrace.
Then along comes 2005’s Guero. While there are a few decent tracks (E Pro, Que Onda Guero, Girl and Scarecrow), it should be quite obvious to anyone with ears that this was an attempt to recreate the glories of Odelay and the record suffers for it. It’s a copycat record that, honestly, pales in comparison to that other one.
The Information, which came out just a few months after Guero, is my favorite Beck album. Any album that utilizes a sample from Renegade Soundwave’s ‘Cocaine Sex’ is ok in my book (The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton). The production is clear and precise thanks to ubber producer Nigel Godrich, and songs contained within The Information are some of the best Beck’s ever penned.
His most recent effort, Modern Guilt, is a mere half hour in length and is one of my least favorite Beck albums. It reminds me a bit of Radioheads In Rainbows in that it sounds like a bunch of demos all cleaned up for mass consumption. A bit of a cash in/cop out, in my humble little opinion.
It is frustrating wading through Beck’s discography, but overall the guy has put out some really fantastic stuff over the years.