Beck Colors Inside the Lines

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Produced by Beck and Greg Kurstin

Just as Beck was riding quietly into the horizon, 2014’s Morning Phase won the Grammy for album of the year, much to Kanye West’s chagrin. Mr. West can only hope for the same relevance 30 years into his own career.

Save for one track, Beck’s follow up Colors, is a complete 180 from that last record. Instead of (once again) mining his masterpiece Sea Change for tone, Beck does what he does best; something brand new. Colors is Beck in pure pop dance mode. While he’s played with contemporary beats and sounds throughout his career, he’s never produced something so radio friendly. Not even 1999’s irreverent Midnite Vultures.

Beck going pop is good or bad depending on what kind of fan you are. Some people still haven’t forgiven Dylan for going electric. But Beck has littered his catalog with such varied sounds that anything this side of Opera could hardly be a surprise. Although I can imagine a track like Up All Night sounding a little too Pharrell for some. Me? I say shut up and dance.

While I’m tempted to compare these tracks to the best of Beck’s catalog, I wonder if that’s missing the point. In truth, Square One could be a cool Earth Wind and Fire joint, and a song like No Distraction could put Sting back on the map. Spoon would be proud to have I’m So Free in their repertoire. Even a song like Wow (an early single released last year) sounds like something Kanye might conjure up, if he ever returned Beck’s phone-calls.

If I had any complaints, it would be that there’s not enough air on the record. Kinda like when you’re listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and wish Anthony would shut up thirty seconds to let the band shine through. There’s so much interesting musicality on this album that gets buried behind vocals, which is why that flute break in the title track is such a relief.

Who knows what’s next for Beck? I sure don’t. And that’s a good thing.

See what other critics have to say:
Rolling Stone

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