Beck’s previous album ‘Morning Phase’ won ‘Album of the Year’ at the Grammy’s in 2014. This annoyed a few people, and understandably so, as it was a collection of maudlin, whiney, ‘she-left-you-get-over-it!’ songs; the sort of album your uncle would write after struggling through a particularly painful divorce.
‘Colors’, by Beck; Release date: Oct 13 2017; Label: Capitol Records. Our Rating: ★★★★/5
by David Evans
It seems such a shame that an artist as brilliantly creative as Beck would garner mainstream attention for an album that revelled in it’s pedestrian maundering. Where were y’all when ‘Odelay’ came calling?
There were promising signs that Beck realised this, and was aiming to right these wrongs when ‘Dreams‘ was released as a single last year. It sauntered in full of swagger, a massive ball-swinging chorus and a colossal drum sound. In short, it sounded like ‘Fun Beck’ was back.
We like ‘Fun Beck’ – ‘Fun Beck’ made 1996’s immortal ‘Odelay’ and 1999’s under-rated, digi-funk masterpiece ‘Midnite Vultures’.
Pleasingly, ‘Dreams’ fits into ‘Colors’ perfectly. It comes midway through an album filled to the brim with pop choruses, shiny guitars and FM harmonies.
The title-track introduces us to the album properly, shimmering in on an avalanche of techni-colour synths and – incredibly – panpipes. (Alongside Arcade Fire’s ‘Everything Now’, I now confirm 2017 The Year of the Panpipe). The song is immediate and states Beck’s intentions from the off: “Found our way through the lost years/now the day brings it all here/all the colors/feel the colors“. Introspection? Not here, pal; we’re off our tits, and hitting the clubs.
‘Seventh Heaven’ and ‘I’m So Free’ follow and keep the endorphins flowing, echoing a more pop-orientated MGMT on the former; the latter brings to mind Weezer, but a Weezer who know how to talk to girls and can bust a move on the dance floor.
The theme continues throughout the album, we’re dealing with a free-wheeling, confident Beck. No slacker-jawed, Generation X irony here, what surprises you most is how sincere Beck sounds surrounded by top 40 gleam. Confident enough to flirt with Ben Folds Five piano pop on ‘Dear Life’ whilst ‘No Distraction’ introduces a love song to a cowbell, a happy marriage that needs repeating forever.
Only on ‘Square One’ does the quality slip, a fantastic middle eight in search of a song, and the mood only softens on final track ‘Fix Me’, if it was built around an acoustic guitar it could have fitted perfectly on ‘Morning Phase’, however this version has it’s foundations in a tight, crisp beat and is all the more wonderful for it.
‘Colors’ is cohesive, up-beat and happy; like the best pop music, it says everything and nothing at the same time, and only improves with repeated listening. A thorough success, and a much-needed change of pace in Beck’s career. Highly recommended.
01. ‘Colors’ | 02. ‘Seventh Heaven’ | 03. ‘I’m So Free’ | 04. ‘Dear Life’ | 05. ‘No Distraction’ | 06. ‘Dreams (Color Mix)’ | 07. ‘Wow’ | 08. ‘Up All Night’ | 09. ‘Square One’ | 10. ‘Fix Me’
David writes, DJs with The House That Jack Built, and sometimes appears in comedy sketches; he loves bacon rolls, kind people, and John Candy.
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