Review Summary: "One, Two, You Know What To Do!"
Since his breakout success with the iconic single, "Loser" 1994 the musically versatile Beck Hansen has been crafting albums of pure psychedelic/acoustic/hip hop/alternative/electronic/trash rock glory. Try wrapping your mind around that. In all seriousness though, just the idea of all these genera's infused into the mind and work of one musician is enough to make anyone shutter. Who knows what kind of god-awful music this idea could produce, and for almost anyone else it would more than likely fail, but not Beck. There is some kind of talent that Beck holds that allows him to make this mess of an idea and turn it into an extremely charming and incredibly successful career. From his white trash-inspired, Mellow Gold
, his magnum opus, Odelay!
, or the trippy folk wails of Mutations
, and so on, Beck has been creating some really fantastic tunes and dropping some awesome beats.
Let's not oversell this too much though, it is not as if every Beck track is some kind of godly piece of art. In fact some songs are downright snore-fests, but all of these are spread out over his entire catalogue so that no album feels too heavy with bad songs, and the greatness of everything else generally cancels out the not-so-good. It can be safely said that the only Beck album to come anywhere near "bad" (using that word very lightly), is his 2006 release "The Information." The album follows very closely to the style of Odelay!
in that almost every song has very hip hop inspired elements, while not all feature Beck laying down funky rhymes, almost all the backing music to the album's alternative rock tunes can be traced back to some kind of hip hop styling.
Kicking things off, the album actually begins very well with songs like the very chill and laid back, "Elevator Music," which relies on layers upon layers percussive instrumentation with only a subtle overlay of guitar. The song is definitely a throwback to the days of Mellow Gold
, and pulls off the resurrection of Beck's organic sound quite nicely. Even into the following track, "Think I'm In Love," things go phenomenally. The track, contradicting the first song, relies mainly on Beck's suave vocals rather than the instruments, except for the breakdown just over halfway through when a great little acoustic guitar part comes flying in, only to disappear just as fast.
All flows quite nicely on the album, including the fast paced song, "Nausea" with its funky sing-along chorus and the incredibly chill "New Round," a very surprising track with many elements not unlike that of bands like Modest Mouse. The following song however, "Dark Star," is where it all begins to dwindle down the drain. "Dark Star" is a very sleepy and well.....dark, jam that bounces between passable filler and just plain boring all throughout.
Even the attempt at upbeat raps on "We Dance Alone" cannot save this midsection of the album from being nothing but pure snores. In fact the album only really picks up once again for "No Complaints," a very fun acoustic track with a skewed 'I don't give a ***' message. Typical Beck. After the song draws to a close though the majority of the album just drags, particularly through the songs "Motorcade" and the attempt at an epic, "The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton," a ten minute mess of a conclusion to an album. The song could have been so much better if the whole "Fanfare" and "Exoskeleton" parts had just been cut completely. They are the moldy bread to the meat of the sandwich, being that "Landslide" is in fact a very excellent song and would have been a marvelous exiting number to an album that just tries to damn hard to be original and creative when it really just borderlines 'average' or 'great' depending on what section you are listening to.