Beck has been known to make experimental pop that is far more unconventional than the average pop music. But he takes it to a whole new level with Midnite Vultures...this record is the complete opposite of Sea Change. It's upbeat genre-hopping neon glitz makes the record just as accessible as it is interesting. But above all, it's just a really fun record to listen to.
01 Sexx Laws
The fact that the song title is written with two xes instead of one signifies the over the topness of the songs. Anyone must've heard that catchy trumpet riff sometime before. Beck also ventures the absurd with his lyrics "Midnight hags in the mausoleum where the pixilated doctors moan" or "Coquettes bitch slap you so polite till you thank them for the tea and sympathy". The chorus is very catchy, with a bit of rhythm and blues influence. I love the hysterical backing vocals. The verse after the first chorus has a different feel...it sounds more like early 90's house music...but the flow of the song remains the same. There is a cool little part with an electronic riff, a banjo and a country lick. From that moment on the banjo plays along with the chorus. Awesome track. 4.5/5
02 Nicotine & Gravy
This is a bit of a slower pop song, with some really catchy lyrics. The verses are based around a bassline. There are some cool arrangements, like that part around 50 second into the song right after the song. Around 1:45 into the song it gets almost as trippy as "Changeling" by DJ Shadow...a really freaky part. Then bam, it gopes into the verse context with some cool singalong vocals (with the lyrics from the chorus). After a few bars a very high vocal sample of Becks sings "I don't wanna die tonight" and he shows off his singing ability a bit. Then there is the "Midnight Crisis"formula...where all the different lyrical parts are sung simultaneously. Beck lets out a huge falsetto yelp...while the song become more arranged with strings and a nice riff. There is this little cool percussion break...before another cool part comes in with an interesting bassline. A very nifty middle eastern melody surfaces and some Beefheart-esque sax blends in the mix...and the chaos is complete. 4.5/5
03 Mixed Bizzness
This is my favorite track of the album...what a gem. What stands is the catchy guitar/and brass melodies that complement each other perfectly. It's just genius. When Beck sings "making all the people scream" he is backed by his own falsetto vocal harmonies". In the chorus he sings "All right, turn it up now", with his own nasal falsetto vocals repeating the lyrics. This song is so loaded with instruments, it's impossible to describe it all. In 1: 43 Beck adds some cool robotic vocals into the mix. The great thing about this song is that despite the different arrangements in various parts of the song...it flows well and remains very dancable. Another cool little twist is around 3 minutes...when it sounds like brass induced parade music flowing directly into a drumsolo guided by nifty guitar work. The most brilliant part of the song comes right after the drumsolo...a trumpet chord emerges and the song picks up again, and Beck does some really funny falsetto vocals. All this in just three and a half minutes of music. Genius. 5/5
There is some really nifty interlude that sound like a mix of lo-fi electronica and a toy piano used for videogame music.
04 Get Real Paid
This is a very electronic track...you hear a crowd in the background...and a helicopter? The monotomous vocals work really well in the verses. At one point the vocals are very high pitched. The chorus is really weird...it sounds a bit like Ladytron. Around three minutes a choirs fades in and out...and it followed by some cool electronic melodies. The song at one point the fades out a bit...and a very nice electric piano melody surfaces until the song abruptly ends. This song is one of the weaker tracks on this album. 3.5/5
05 Hollywood Freaks
This sounds like early nineties rap, and it seems Beck seems to have a bad flow on purpose. The chorus is one of the most catchy I've ever heard. It's a funny goofy track, with some really cool lyrics like "Looking like jail bait. Selling lots of real estate. Looking like a hot date. Banging like an 808". Beck wants to rime as much words in his lyrics as possible in this track. It's the most straight forward song on this album so far. 4/5
06 Peached & Cream
This starts with a guitar riff...and a slow beat starts half way. Beck plays a little solo thingy before the vocals starts. He sings very high vocals...almost hysteric...they work especially well in the chorus. This might be the most guitar driven song on the album...but the production makes it sound like a slow trip-hop song. The song actually becomes more stripped and acoustic around 2 minutes...where it sounds sort of out of tune with little electronic chirps. The intro riff re-emerges until a gospel-influenced part comes with harmonic vocals, handclapping and an organ. In the climax all the ingredients are mixed together to make one delicious flavor...with a little trumpet solo as icing on the cake. 4/5
07 Broken Train
It starts with alot of exotic percussion...almost similair to another track of Becks "Deadweight". It's really cool...despite the lack of a real melody (apart from the spooky keyboard riff). A wha-guite noise comes in as the beat becomes a bit more straight forward. Becks vocals are fantastic throughout the song. I like the little guitar and harmonica riffage in the chorus. This is prolly the most stripped song on the album...but it sounds great. One of my favorite Beck songs. 5/5
08 Milk & Honey
Another very arranged song. The chorus is very over-the-top...with all kinds of electronic soundscapes, piano and guitar riffage...you name it, it's there. I love the cool arrangements around 20 second in the song as the first verse brings. I never heard anything quite like it. The bassline adds alot too. It would've been cool if the transition between the verses and chorusses was building up more, instead of the chorus bursting in immediately. Around 1:45 the song sound like an 80's pop song. There is some female vocal riff, loungy guitar strumming and typical 80's keyboard riff. Becks then comes in with his horny vocals. There is nice ethereal acoustic climax around three and a half minutes into the song. Nice twist. 4.5/5
09 Beautiful Way
It starts pretty dark...with some jungle percussion and a lo-fi beat. But then the song becomes pretty tranquil when the piano comes in. Really cool. The chorus is very catchy when he sings "such a beautiful way to break your heart". There is some country riffage in the latter part of the chorus. I like the short harmonica solo in the bridge. It's a more straight up, vocal driven song. 4/5
10 The Pressure Zone
It starts with beatboxing and a very simple catchy guitar riff that carries out for most of the song. It's a great song to wake up to because it's very upbeat. The vocal lines in the chorus are great. After the second chorus and on is this cool worldbeat influenced part at one point driven around a piano cord, nifty basslines and a flute until the main guitar riff crunches through again. This is the closest thing to rock on this album. The song ends very abruptly with some strange avantgarde noise. 4/5
This is a really cool R&B song where Beck shows off his vocal ability alot. It's a really lullaby-ish song with a sensual bassline and cute brass arrangements. That is until Beck comes in with his hysteric exaggerating falsetto vocals. It's kind of a joke love song. The bizarre Beck lyricism is very evident (zankuu chicken?). I love it when the chorusses become all arranged...and Beck lets out these huge yelps at the end. It's a bit of a mockery of your basic MTV-overplayed R&B loveydover song. In the end Beck repeats the lyrics from "Sexx Laws" "I'm a full grown man but I'm not afraid to cry". 4.5/5
There is a short goofy secret track on this album...which I'm not going to review. It's just alot of craziness to simply put it. It's basically over the top industrial with some little musical twists here and there.
Overall this record is just plain fun and interesting at the same time...it another one of those records where you pick up new things with each listen. Despite alot of experimenting...this record is perfect for parties and dancing around. It takes creativity to make a record that is very accessible and catchy OR
chaotic and experimental but Beck has accomplished it all with Midnite Vultures.