Beck — to be honest, what is there to say about Beck that hasn’t been already said? The Los Angeles native has jumped from one genre to the next through the 32 years that he has been performing under the Beck name.
In the mid ‘80s up to his first record “Golden Feelings,” he was a country blues and folk musician. Well, that didn’t get him many fans, so he sought a change in sound to bring in a bigger audience.
This is exactly what he did on his 1994 record “Mellow Gold,” which he fused this folk sound with more noisy rock and hip-hop elements to bring in both the nu-metal/hip-hop crowd, but also the punk scene of the ‘90s.
His most famous record is his 1996 masterpiece “Odelay.” In this record, he drops a lot of his folk background and goes into a much more experimental hip-hop and art rock/pop direction. For the times, it was one of the best genre hops of all time.
I could go on and on, with his “Guero” record and “Sea Changes” in the early 2000s, but he is now in 2017 with this brand new record “Colors,” and once again Beck proves that he can genre hop and stay relevant; well sort of.
“Colors” is once again a huge change since his last three records, where he tried to hone back on his folk roots and go into a more art rock direction at the same time.
But, “Colors” is a blatant attempt at a pop record, with all the very clean and shimmering melodies and ballads that just give you this warm and fuzzy feeling.
This record in one word is happy. This just gives you that good feeling of summer and of going to the beach. All the punchy and “dancy” synths, as well as the colorful art pop instrumentation, just gives this record all the color that it needs.
Also, there are a great deal of ‘80s dance hall influences splattered throughout the whole record.
With that said, this sound doesn’t always work, however. An example is in the song “Wow.” There just is too much going on and the production choices are very questionable on the whole track, especially the very in-your-face and overly compressed synths with the odd vocal delivery.
But the one glaring issue, which is one of the reasons why Beck hasn’t really been able to punch his ticket is his voice. His singing isn’t the best, as in why he went into a lot of hip-hop. His voice is just very dry, and for a pop record, you need a good voice. The voice is what makes songs stick in people’s heads.
His voice just doesn’t fit this new direction, and it is very obvious that his producers tried to really edit his voice to make it sound as poppy as they could.
Also on a small side note, some of the lyrics are a bit too cheesey and tongue-in-cheek for me. This really isn’t a negative since it is a pop record and this is more for just dancing and having fun with friends.
Overall, even with these vocal issues, the record still is a very catchy pop record, especially in songs like “Colors” and “Square One,” but the album for the most part just lacks depth that will make it hard to cling to people through the months.
Happy listening, Gannon University!
• Rating: low-mid 7/10
• Favorite Song: “Square One”
• Least Favorite Song: “Wow”
• Genre: Indie-Pop, Electro-Pop, Art Pop