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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2002 | Interscope

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Beck has always been known for his ever-changing moods -- particularly since they often arrived one after another on one album, sometimes within one song -- yet the shift between the neon glitz of Midnite Vultures and the lush, somber Sea Change is startling, and not just because it finds him in full-on singer/songwriter mode, abandoning all of the postmodern pranksterism of its predecessor. What's startling about Sea Change is how it brings everything that's run beneath the surface of Beck's music to the forefront, as if he's unafraid to not just reveal emotions, but to elliptically examine them in this wonderfully melancholy song cycle. If, on most albums prior to this, Beck's music was a sonic kaleidoscope -- each song shifting familiar and forgotten sounds into colorful, unpredictable combinations -- this discards genre-hopping in favor of focus, and the concentration pays off gloriously, resulting in not just his best album, but one of the greatest late-night, brokenhearted albums in pop. This, as many reviews and promotional interviews have noted, is indeed a breakup album, but it's not a bitter listen; it has a wearily beautiful sound, a comforting, consoling sadness. His words are often evocative, but not nearly as evocative as the music itself, which is rooted equally in country-rock (not alt-country), early-'70s singer/songwriterism, and baroque British psychedelia. With producer Nigel Godrich, Beck has created a warm, enveloping sound, with his acoustic guitar supported by grand string arrangements straight out of Paul Buckmaster, eerie harmonies, and gentle keyboards among other subtler touches that give this record a richness that unveils more with each listen. Surely, some may bemoan the absence of the careening, free-form experimentalism of Odelay, but Beck's gifts as a songwriter, singer, and musician have never been as brilliant as they are here. As Sea Change is playing, it feels as if Beck singing to you alone, revealing painful, intimate secrets that mirror your own. It's a genuine masterpiece in an era with too damn few of them. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 18, 1996 | Geffen Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
As crazy as its cover art (a Komondor running hurdles), Odelay confirms Beck’s genius as an assembler. While Mellow Gold and its hit song Loser was defined by its thrifty, lo-fi style, Odelay boasts a more luxurious production. But the founding idea is the same: combining the uncombinable! Sexual funk, psychedelic rock, lewd country blues, old school rap, wonky folk, flashy easy listening, Beck mixes, matches and unmatches! The samples are just as wild with a blend of Van Morrison’s Them, Rare Earth, Mandrill, Mantronix, Sly Stone, Dick Hyman, Edgar Winter, Lee Dorsey, and a few others… Despite these unlikely combinations, Odelay has its own identity. Yet another gem based on a healthy anti-rut philosophy. Indeed, Beck is not only a mad scientist when it comes to sound, but also a genuine songwriter at heart. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 13, 2017 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
Those following Beck Hansen since the dawn of the 90s know that he can play anything. Anything! From rural blues in Son House/Skip James fashion to Prince-like funk, slacker hip hop, Dylan-ian folk and lo-fi electro. If the tinkering ace from California first skyrocketed thanks to a convincing blend of folk and hip hop rhythms (the inevitable hymn Loser from 1993), he will over the years tend towards more classicism with Sea Changes (2002) and Morning Phase (2014). He’s done a complete 180° with Colors. This thirteenth album from Beck certainly isn’t lacking any hues. A vibrant mix of psychedelia à la Beatles, 80s pop, contemporary dancefloor, and funk crossed with hip hop, the stylistic kaleidoscope is complete! The wide variations are incidentally so far apart that they will probably rattle some newcomers. © CM/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 25, 2014 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
Often pigeonholed as being prolific to a fault, Beck took an extended break from recording after the 2008 release of Modern Guilt. He kept himself busy, producing acclaimed albums for Charlotte Gainsbourg, Thurston Moore, and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, blowing off steam via his mischievous Record Club (an online series where he and his friends covered classic albums), and then easing back to original songwriting through the ambitious Song Reader project, a folio containing sheet music for 20 unrecorded songs. He also suffered a spinal injury in 2008, a fact not publicized until he was ready to release Morning Phase, his first album in six years, early in 2014. As Morning Phase is a slow, shimmering album deliberately in the vein of classic singer/songwriter LPs, it's easy to think of it as a pained, confessional sequel to Sea Change, the 2002 record written and recorded in the wake of a painful romantic breakup. Beck didn't shy away from these comparisons, calling it a "companion piece" to his acclaimed 2002 LP, and as "Morning" glimmers into view, sounding for all the world like "Golden Age," it almost seems as if Beck covered himself as part of the Record Club. Morning Phase soon develops its own distinct gait, one that's a little more relaxed than its cousin. Crucially, Beck has swapped sorrow for mere melancholy, a shift in attitude that makes this 2014 album sweeter than its predecessor, a distinction sometimes distinguished by moments where words, traditionally the sadness signifiers for sensitive troubadours, are washed away by cascading waves of candy-colored sound. Underneath this warm, enveloping aural blanket lie some sturdily constructed compositions -- the haunting "Heart Is a Drum," bringing to mind memories of Nick Drake; the loping country-rock "Say Goodbye" and its sister "Country Down"; "Blue Moon," where the skies part like the breaking dawn -- but the abiding impression left from this album is one of comfort, not despair, which makes Morning Phase distinctly different than its companion Sea Change. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 22, 2019 | Capitol Records

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When he exploded in 1993 with his brilliant single Loser, Beck was rather ahead his time with his fusion of acoustic blues/folk and hip-hop beats. In its wake he unveiled an even wider palette with his album Odelay, mixing sexual funk, psychedelic rock, salacious country blues, old school rap and flashy easy-listening, all interspersed with samples from Van Morrison, Mandrill, Mantronix, Sly Stone, Dick Hyman, Edgar Winter and Lee Dorsey. Later, he indulged in a more classical folk-rock style with his beautiful album Sea Change. At 49 years old, Beck is no less innovative, this time sharing the task with a five star co-writer and co-producer: Pharrell Williams. Initially, the duo only planned to release a single, then an EP, then finally eleven tracks. While Beck is an expert in sophistication with bountiful ideas, Pharrell is more of a refined, minimalist type. Beck opts for the second approach here. The result is a stripped-back sound drenched in melancholy, largely due to the beautiful ballads, both delicate (Stratosphere) and electric (Everlasting Nothing). The Californian plays the role of the relaxed hedonist (like on the sugary smooth track See Through), as well as toying around with auto-tune (Uneventful Days) and letting himself be carried away by a pop wave with a light groove. And to keep his fans happy, Beck stays true to himself right from the opening track, Saw Lightning, with a slide guitar, a rap beat and a vintage microphone. The real strength of Hyperspace is that it does not try to turn the album into a hit machine - something that one might have expected from a Beck/Pharrell collaboration. And throughout this crazy pop-soul-rap-folk-rap-R&B-rock record, everything is much more subtle than it seems. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2002 | Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Geffen

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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

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Rock - Released March 16, 2005 | Interscope

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Ever since his thrilling 1994 debut with Mellow Gold, each new Beck album was a genuine pop cultural event, since it was never clear which direction he would follow. Kicking off his career as equal parts noise-prankster, indie folkster, alt-rocker, and ironic rapper, he's gone to extremes, veering between garishly ironic party music to brooding heartbroken Baroque pop, and this unpredictability is a large part of his charm, since each album was distinct from the one before. That remains true with Guero, his eighth album (sixth if you don't count 1994's Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave, which some don't), but the surprising thing here is that it sounds for all the world like a good, straight-ahead, garden-variety Beck album, which is something he'd never delivered prior to this 2005 release. In many ways, Guero is deliberately designed as a classicist Beck album, a return to the sound and aesthetic of his 1996 masterwork, Odelay. After all, he's reteamed with the producing team of the Dust Brothers, who are widely credited for the dense, sample-collage sound of Odelay, and the light, bright Guero stands in stark contrast to the lush melancholy of 2002's Sea Change while simultaneously bearing a knowing kinship to the sound that brought him his greatest critical and commercial success in the mid-'90s. This has all the trappings of being a cold, calculating maneuver, but the album never plays as crass. Instead, it sounds as if Beck, now a husband and father in his mid-thirties, is revisiting his older aesthetic and sensibility from a new perspective. The sound has remained essentially the same -- it's still a kaleidoscopic jumble of pop, hip-hop, and indie rock, with some Brazilian and electro touches thrown in -- but Beck is a hell of a lot calmer, never indulging in the lyrical or musical flights of fancy or the absurdism that made Mellow Gold and Odelay such giddy listens. He now operates with the skill and precision of a craftsman, never dumping too many ideas into one song, paring his words down to their essentials, mixing the record for a wider audience than just his friends. Consequently, Guero never is as surprising or enthralling as Odelay, but Beck is also not trying to be as wild and funny as he was a decade ago. He's shifted away from exaggerated wackiness -- which is good, since it wouldn't wear as well on a 34 year old as it would on a man a decade younger -- and concentrated on the record-making, winding up with a thoroughly enjoyable LP that sounds warm and familiar upon the first play and gets stronger with each spin. No, it's not a knockout, the way his first few records were, but it's a successful mature variation on Odelay, one that proves that Beck's sensibility will continue to reap rewards for him as he enters his second decade of recording. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 23, 1999 | Geffen

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 15, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 22, 2019 | Capitol Records

When he exploded in 1993 with his brilliant single Loser, Beck was rather ahead his time with his fusion of acoustic blues/folk and hip-hop beats. In its wake he unveiled an even wider palette with his album Odelay, mixing sexual funk, psychedelic rock, salacious country blues, old school rap and flashy easy-listening, all interspersed with samples from Van Morrison, Mandrill, Mantronix, Sly Stone, Dick Hyman, Edgar Winter and Lee Dorsey. Later, he indulged in a more classical folk-rock style with his beautiful album Sea Change. At 49 years old, Beck is no less innovative, this time sharing the task with a five star co-writer and co-producer: Pharrell Williams. Initially, the duo only planned to release a single, then an EP, then finally eleven tracks. While Beck is an expert in sophistication with bountiful ideas, Pharrell is more of a refined, minimalist type. Beck opts for the second approach here. The result is a stripped-back sound drenched in melancholy, largely due to the beautiful ballads, both delicate (Stratosphere) and electric (Everlasting Nothing). The Californian plays the role of the relaxed hedonist (like on the sugary smooth track See Through), as well as toying around with auto-tune (Uneventful Days) and letting himself be carried away by a pop wave with a light groove. And to keep his fans happy, Beck stays true to himself right from the opening track, Saw Lightning, with a slide guitar, a rap beat and a vintage microphone. The real strength of Hyperspace is that it does not try to turn the album into a hit machine - something that one might have expected from a Beck/Pharrell collaboration. And throughout this crazy pop-soul-rap-folk-rap-R&B-rock record, everything is much more subtle than it seems. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2006 | Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 13, 2017 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Those following Beck Hansen since the dawn of the 90s know that he can play anything. Anything! From rural blues in Son House/Skip James fashion to Prince-like funk, slacker hip hop, Dylan-ian folk and lo-fi electro. If the tinkering ace from California first skyrocketed thanks to a convincing blend of folk and hip hop rhythms (the inevitable hymn Loser from 1993), he will over the years tend towards more classicism with Sea Changes (2002) and Morning Phase (2014). He’s done a complete 180° with Colors. This thirteenth album from Beck certainly isn’t lacking any hues. A vibrant mix of psychedelia à la Beatles, 80s pop, contemporary dancefloor, and funk crossed with hip hop, the stylistic kaleidoscope is complete! The wide variations are incidentally so far apart that they will probably rattle some newcomers. © CM/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | DGC

As crazy as its cover art (a Komondor running hurdles), Odelay confirms Beck’s genius as an assembler. While Mellow Gold and its hit song Loser was defined by its thrifty, lo-fi style, Odelay boasts a more luxurious production. But the founding idea is the same: combining the uncombinable! Sexual funk, psychedelic rock, lewd country blues, old school rap, wonky folk, flashy easy listening, Beck mixes, matches and unmatches! The samples are just as wild with a blend of Van Morrison’s Them, Rare Earth, Mandrill, Mantronix, Sly Stone, Dick Hyman, Edgar Winter, Lee Dorsey, and a few others… Despite these unlikely combinations, Odelay has its own identity. Yet another gem based on a healthy anti-rut philosophy. Indeed, Beck is not only a mad scientist when it comes to sound, but also a genuine songwriter at heart. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | DGC

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2006 | Interscope

Beck began work on 2006's The Information after Sea Change but before he reunited with the Dust Brothers for 2005's Guero, eventually finishing the album after Guero was generally acclaimed as a return to Odelay form. So, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that The Information falls somewhere between those two records, at least on sonic terms. Musically, it's certainly a kindred spirit to Guero, meaning that it hearkens back to the collage of loose-limbed, quirky white-boy funk-rock and rap that brought Beck fame at the peak of the alt-rock revolution, with hints of the psychedelia of Mutations and the folk-rock that was the basis for Sea Change. Since this is a Nigel Godrich production, it's meticulous and precise even when it wants to give the illusion of spontaneity, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it also pulls the album into focus, something that the generally fine Guero could have used. Guero had many strengths, but its biggest weakness was the general sense that it was unfinished, a suspicion fostered by its endless issues in deluxe editions and remixes. Beck embraced these changes, most extravagantly on the cover of Wired, where he was hailing the future of the album, which would now no longer be seen as finished: it would be a project that covered a certain amount of time, the artist would package it one way, then listeners would offer their own spin. That is precisely what Guero turned out to be, so it would have made sense that The Information would run further down that field, particularly because it has a design-your-own-art for its cover and is supplemented by a DVD filled with quick-n-dirty videos for each of its songs. But Beck isn't so easily pigeonholed: as it turns out, The Information is far more of a proper album than Guero, coming fully equipped with recurring themes and motifs, feeling every bit the concept album Sea Change was. Credit might go partially to his collaboration with Godrich -- who is nothing if not a taskmaster, helping to sharpen and focus erratic talents like Paul McCartney and Stephen Malkmus (for good in the former, not as good in the latter) -- but this also feels like the work of a refocused Beck, who shook off the cobwebs by reuniting with the Dust Brothers, thereby getting his "return to Odelay form" notices out of the way, and then getting down to the real work here on The Information, as he tackles the hyper-saturated info-world of the new millennium here. If it initially seems like surprises are in short supply on The Information -- even when the tracks take a left turn, it doesn't feel like Beck and Godrich are wandering off the map -- the craft is strong and assured, and closer listens reveal the depth of the detail within the album, whether it's in the construction of the production or how those productions illuminate Beck's themes. Ever the obscurist, Beck's meanings aren't always crystal clear, which is no doubt deliberate, but his overall intent is easier to ascertain, especially when "Cellphone's Dead" juts up against "Nausea." There's a greater sense of craft here, and while craft isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Beck, it's what happens when an eccentric sticks around for over a decade: he turns pro. He's done his exploring and now he's learning how to apply what he's discovered. While this may have the inevitable side effect of making his music a little less bracing and exciting, at least on first listen -- and that's especially true when he's in his pop chameleon mode as he is here, since it often seemed like his collages were quickly thrown together instead of immaculately assembled as they are here -- it nevertheless makes for a well-constructed, intriguing, and satisfying album, which The Information assuredly is. Upon first listen, it might seem to slide by a little bit on texture and sound instead of song, but that doesn't necessarily mean it feels even as groove-oriented and hip-hop-driven as Guero (let alone Midnite Vultures), despite the fact that many of the best tracks are built on muscular, intricate rhythms, like the dense, paranoid "Nausea" or the opening fanfare of "Elevator Music." But those further listens -- something that a neo-concept album like this demands anyway -- reveal the complexity within the productions, and how Beck is bridging the two sides of his personality, finding a common ground between his folk roots and art rock sides. All those little details give each cut a dramatic flow, and as the cuts pile up, they all add up to something. Like a picture where you have to stare intently to find the hidden item buried in a seas of colored dots, it can be far too easy on The Information to look at the individual dots and not see the big picture -- but at least here the dots are interesting in and of themselves. And if you give it time, The Information eventually reveals itself as Beck's tightest, most purposeful album yet. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Beck in the magazine