by Josh Edds
Re-inventing yourself continually can be a daunting task; especially when you have legions of fans anticipating the next mutation. For musical nomad and cultural reconnoiterer Beck Hansen, the alterations seem to come with ease.
Beck’s collective material progressively finds itself in a musical metamorphoses, with each addition becoming more eclectic and enriched than the last. Over three years in the making, Beck’s newest CD entitled, The Information, was released by Interscope on Oct.3. Nigel Godrich, producer on Beck’s previous albums Mutations and Seachange, is onboard once again to bring clarity to Beck’s sonic clutter, producing the 15 plenary tracks on the record. The album serves as a compelling document to some of Beck’s best groove-based material since the release of Midnite Vultures in 1999, as well as a resurrection of the playful, more idiosyncratic Beck behavior that was characterized and modeled after his popular release of Odelay in 1996. Full of rhythmically-rich tracks that range from sample-heavy hip-hop one moment, to fully-indulged folk-rock synthpop the next, Beck’s latest effort is nothing short of inclusive. His lyrical ingenuity proves to be in high-gear this album and all the more apropos, spouting stories about modern-day affairs involving topics such as biotech, the shrinking middleclass, perpetual war and even Scientology. Beck’s most significant change on the album, however, is his lyric portrayal. Older songs such as “Hotwax” are full of metaphor–“Sawdust songs of the plaid bartenders Western Unions of the country westerns Silver foxes looking for romance
In the chain smoke Kansas flashdance ass pants
And you got the hotwax residues
You never lose in your razor blade shoes,” whereas songs on The Information give the listener a lucent glimpse into his spirituality, among other topic matters. An example of the lyrical changes taken place on the new album is the song “Strange Apparition,” –“ When the Lord rings my front door
And asks me what I got to show
Besides the dust in my pockets
And the things that just eat away my soul.”
For an artist who typically supplies lyrics through hip-check wordplay and metaphor, it may be difficult to adjust to the new format.
Over 18 years, 12 official CDs have been released, numerous tours have been endured and somehow, through the density of it all, Beck Hansen has remained un-affected and innovative. The latest release proves his dedication to eschew critics’ attempts of pigeon-holding his music by re-inventing himself, as he perpetually does on each record. With tracks ranging from urban beats to examples folk-rock glory, the record has mass appeal. Overall, The Information is yet another example of what Beck does best; staying true to the music.
Beck; clarity through the clutter