"Mutations" may not be Becks most consistant record...but it's probably the most easy listening album he has released. For the most part Becks songwriting comes into the foreground...effortlessly combining acoustic rock, blues, country and even latin. Of course, when Beck incorperates music styles, he usually does it on his terms. What you get is a typical Beck record...with solid songwriting...and creative genrehopping on certain occasions. That's what you can expect from "Mutations"
01 Cold Brains 03:41
This is a pretty solid opener. It sounds like a typical Beck track...with acoustic guitar chords weird trippy effects and his recognisable vocals. Good lyrics...and I like the harmonica solo about 1:50 into the song. After another verse/chorus another harmonica solo rounds out the track. 4/5
02 Nobody's Fault But My Own 05:02
The atmospheric melodies that support the vocals and acoustic gutar is what make this song. It has a bit of an indian vibe. I like it when he sings "Who could ever be so cruel, blame the devil for the things you do"....I think that's one of the best lines he has written. The song has very somber, uneasy feeling. It's really beautiful when the indian snare instruments and violins become a bit more arranged near the end....very nice. 4.5/5
03 Lazy Flies 3:43
This is a very folky track with some pretty cool Latin percussion...it works well. Apart from that, it's a pretty straight forward song. In the chorus, there is a bit of electric guitar. There are cool little electric keyboard solo in the bridge and end. 3.75/5
04 Canceled Check 03:14
This song has a very strong country vibe...with some rocking piano keys. It really sounds like one of those songs you hear in a deserted bar in the desert. After the second chorus there is a bit of trumpet and harmonica...and you hear some guy growl. It ends with a quirky jam with goofy toy instruments. 3.5/5
05 We Live Again 03:04
This short song brings a whole different mood to the table. It's revolves around a spiralling harpsichord melody. It's a very breathy track...the production is very lush as if it's a dream. Good stuff. 4/5
06 Tropicalia 03:20
This is one of most upbeat tracks on this album. It has a strong "Costa Del Sol" vibe...with cool latin percussion, which includes a riff of someone rubbing a window or something smooth. It's a great, danceble summer track. I like the brass arrangements in the chorus. The climax has a simplistic trumpet riff repeating over. 4.25/5
07 Dead Melodies 02:35
This is another good acoustic track. I like the melody and how it progresses with the vocal lines. There is a tiny guitar solo of some sorts and light backing vocals. 4/5
08 Bottle Of Blues 04:55
As the title implies...this is a very bluesy track that combines great lyrics with a very catchy chorus. Near the end Beck shows off his vocals and harmonica playing a bit. 3.5/5
09 O Maria 04:00
This is a really cool piano driven song...it's a bit of a swing-blues combo. I think the melody is brilliant...it sounds like a song that easily could be used in some slick-*** musical. A trumpet solo is followed by some creepy effects. Very cool stuff. Beck just sounds good making any type of music. 4.25/5
10 Sing It Again 04:19
Starts with Beck saying "shall we do another one again". It's a very, slow stripped track...with Becks vocals being the biggest vocals. The drums, piano and acoustic guitars are very low key. Every now and then an electric guitar provides a country-ish soundscape. Beck plays a very nice guitar solo around 1:45 that ends with playing the same melodies as the vocal lines in the chorus. Cool harmonica solo comes around 3-minutes. Good stuff. 4/5
11 Static 04:20
This song has a very dark atmosphere. Beck sings "It's so easy to laugh at yourself, when all those jokes have already been written". It's one of those depressing songs that makes you feel pretty hopeless, whatever you do. Musically, this song is pretty dull, in my opinion.
12 Diamond Bollocks 06:03
This is the best thing Beck has ever written in my opinion. It's got so many interesting twists and turns...and still has alot of catchyness. It's got a semi-slow beat with a strange vocal effect that sounds like a tape being rewinded really fast over and over. Not to mention the cool harpsichord riff. Then the Brian Wilson influenced vocals make their way...really cool. Bam! a very catchy guitar riff comes...and Beck sings "looking back at some dead world that looks so new". The drum beat is very cool and interesting. After the lyrics there are some cool falsetto vocal harmonies. The drums intensify even more significantly and the song becomes very prog-ish hard rock. It's briefly pauses by a sequence that sounds like chirping birds (what the heck"")...before it picks up again. Bam! Suddenly a new slower beat picks up before the final bar of the rocking sequence. The bassline is very Doors-influenced...and the harpsichord plays a cool solo. Very subtlely the song changes entirely...with a weird volatile electronic part with Becks vocals. Bam again! A sonic assault of unbearable noise is fired into your eardrums. Then the rocking verse suddenly reappears with the cool falsetto vocals and...what the heck" Some crazy out of tune guitar thing comes...kicking off a slower section of the song with Beck singing "looking back at some dead world that looks so new" repeatedly. The song stops for about three seconds...and then the prog Mars Volta-like part pops up again...but fades out pretty quickly. The song ends with a creepy keyboard melody that seems unfinished. This track is one big musical orgasm. 5/5
13 Runners Dial Zero 04:02
The final track starts with some distorted noise and someine counting to 3. A very simplistic echo-ing piano melody is the basis of this song...really nice. It's a very haunting track, very minimalistic. Beck sings in falsetto as the song fades...giving it a very disturbing creepy atmosphere. Pretty good track, considering it's simplicity. 4.25/5
This is a cd that flows well and puts the emphasis on lyrics and melody...even though plenty of styles covered by Beck...none of the tracks seem out of place...not even a prog rock track like "Diamond Bollocks". I do think this cd would be better if genre-hopping tracks like the previously mentioned were more evenly divided by good lyrical tunes like "Nobody's Fault But My Own".
But it doesn't take away of Becks genius ability not only to write good songs, bit to pull off almost every modern musical style with success, and still make a record that doesn't drift away from his signature.