Showing posts with label beck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beck. Show all posts

Monday, November 25, 2019

video review: 'hyperspace' by beck

And here we go - I think some folks might be a little surprised by this one, but still a decent project. Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN and then maybe something out of my backlog a bit overdue, so stay tuned!

album review: 'hyperspace' by beck

I didn't even do a full review of Beck's last album.

And I wanted to, believe me - I've been a fan of Beck for years, his genre-blending combined with an uncanny knack for hooks and some ridiculously sharp songwriting has made him one of those artists emblematic of the mid-90s alternative scene, and often praised as an innovator... and yet time has not been all that kind to him. There hasn't been a serious critical reexamination of Beck's legacy by mainstream rock critics and I think I understand why: if they did, they might come to the abrupt realization that his motley pile-up of genres was more novelty and streamlined craftsmanship than genre-pushing experimentation. To quote music critic Steven Hyden, part of his charm was that he was a jack of all trades and a master of none, but that can be a curse years later when the genre fusions become routine and folks are no longer impressed - or in the age of broader music distribution and access to a broader array of underground albums that might not have been heard widely at the time, you realize even the genre fusions aren't that innovative. 

Granted, some of this wouldn't matter if Beck's music had aged a little better or kept up consistent quality. Yeah, Sea Change is heartbreaking and he always tends to wring out a solid single, but I'm not at all surprised that people were underwhelmed by Morning Phase, even if I still think it's a pretty great album with some phenomenally warm, well-blended textures. But it was also signifying that a guy who had once been framed as breaking from the establishment was very much becoming a part of it simply by getting older, and Colors was sadly a glaring example of this, not helped by Greg Kurstin giving him a sound that was paradoxically colourless - hell, even leaving it on the Trailing Edge I probably overrated it. Yes, I still like 'Wow' despite myself for being just kooky enough to connect, but if you want the biggest example of how Beck is in a very different space now than he was twenty years ago? I'll tell you: when I saw U2 a few years back, he was the opening act - yeah.

And thus, again, I had rock bottom expectations when it came to this new album. Yes, the fact that it was being co-produced with Pharrell of all people intrigued me - especially as I can see some real common ground between their brands of weirdness - but the last time Pharrell strayed into oddball production outside of hip-hop proper, we got sweetener from Ariana Grande, Wanderlust from Little Big Town, and Man Of The Woods from Justin Timberlake. So with all of that in mind, how is Hyperspace?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

video review: 'morning phase' by beck

Wow, this was a great surprise. I guarantee there'll be critics who don't see this coming and won't pick up on it. 

Next up... well, we'll see. Stay tuned!

album review: 'morning phase' by beck

I've been a fan of Beck for years - if I was looking for an act I would describe as my 'go-to' for describing what indie rock can deliver at its best, Beck would be near the top of my list. Beautifully textured instrumentation (most of which he plays himself), dense lyrics, and a real heartfelt connection to his music that shows he's giving it his all, he's one of the most talented composers and songwriters to explode in the 90s, and all of his albums are worth your time, with my personal favourites being Mutations and Sea Change.

That being said, Beck has been fairly quiet over the past few years, his last major project attracting headlines being Song Reader, a book full of sheet music he wrote for others to put together if they wanted to play his material. It turned out he had a very good reason for delaying his most recent effort: he had received a spinal injury back in 2008 which had led to a painful recovery process (one of the reasons the vocals on his last album Modern Guilt were so subdued and muted). That, on top of his other assorted projects and a change in label to Capitol Records, meant that by the time Beck had planned to release his newest album, six years had gone by, which really can feel like an eternity in indie rock.

But now he's back with his newest album Morning Phase and I couldn't be more excited. A return to his country and folk roots with a decidedly lighter tone (well, lighter for Beck), paired as a companion piece to Sea Change? There aren't many ways to get me more enthusiastic about an indie rock project! So, did it live up to my expectations?