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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

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 /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

When all is said and done, Beck's Guero might be the quintessential album of 2005. Not the best, nor the one that captured the sound of the year, but the album that illustrates that in 2005, there was no such thing as a finished album -- that a set of songs could be packaged and repackaged in so many forms, it never really seems to exist as a finished work. That's because in the course of the year there were roughly five different incarnations of the album. At the beginning of the year, the unfinished album was leaked on the Internet, causing such a commotion that it was reviewed on the front page of Salon. A couple months later, the album was officially released as a 13-track edition, along with a greatly expanded 20-track special edition, containing a few remixes and several songs that didn't appear on the 13-track album but did appear on the leaked bootleg. Then, after a couple of import editions containing various bonus tracks, Guerolito appeared at the end of the year. Guerolito is a remix of the entire album, with each track being remixed by a different act, including Air, Boards of Canada, Octet, and Ad-Rock. Sometimes these songs bear different titles than their source material -- "E-Pro" became "Ghost Range," for instance; this practice was in place for the deluxe version of Guero as well -- and Guerolito itself had its own alternate edition, which was packaged and sequenced slightly different from its main edition, plus an import with a bonus track. All this packaging and repackaging, mixing and remixing, titling and retitling has the effect of diluting a good set of songs by Beck -- there may be many ways of enjoying these songs, but having them exist in different physical and musical forms makes them harder to grasp, not easier to appreciate. And while the mixes on Guerolito are, by and large, good, they neither illuminate the original songs, nor do they offer much new -- they don't expand the songs, they still try to keep the basic structure in place, so it's not a good showcase for the remixers. Instead, they just reconfirm the suspicion that this set of songs was never quite finished or sequenced, it was just released. And while that may be a very 2005 experience, that doesn't mean that each grouping makes for satisfying listen. After all, given all the capabilities you have at home these days, why not make your own mixes and play lists of the Guero material? The deluxe edition of Guero even gives you the ability to remix it on your computer -- which means there may be many more versions than five of this album floating out there in the ether. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2004 | Interscope

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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 of 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 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 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 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 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 January 1, 2014 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Hi-Res Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Hi-Res Audio - Grammy Awards
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 /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2002 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Geffen

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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 /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 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 /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 23, 1999 | Geffen

By calling the muted psychedelic folk-rock, blues, and Tropicalia of Mutations a stopgap, Beck set expectations for Midnite Vultures unreasonably high. Ironically, Midnite Vultures doesn't feel like a sequel to Odelay -- it's a genre exercise, like Mutations. This time, Beck delves into soul, funk, and hip-hop, touching on everything from Stax/Volt to No Limit but using Prince as his home base. He's eschewed samples, more or less, but not the aesthetic. Even when a song is reminiscent of a particular style, it's assembled in strange, exciting ways. As it kicks off with "Sexx Laws," it's hard not to get caught up in the rush, and "Nicotine & Gravy" carries on the vibe expertly, as does the party jam "Mixed Bizness" and the full-on electro workout "Get Real Paid," an intoxicating number that sounds like a Black Album reject. So far, so good -- the songs are tight, catchy, and memorable, the production dense. Then comes "Hollywood Freaks." The self-conscious gangsta goof is singularly irritating, not least because of Beck's affected voice. It's the first on Midnite Vultures to feel like a parody, and it's such an awkward, misguided shift in tone that it colors the rest of the album. Tributes now sound like send-ups, allusions that once seemed affectionate feel snide, and the whole thing comes off as a little jive. Musically, Midnite Vultures is filled with wonderful little quirks, but these are undercut by the sneaking suspicion that for all the ingenuity, it's just a hipster joke. Humor has always been a big part of Beck's music, but it was gloriously absurd, never elitist. Here, it's delivered with a smug smirk, undercutting whatever joy the music generates. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2006 | Interscope

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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 /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2002 | Interscope

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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 /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1994 | DGC

From its kaleidoscopic array of junk-culture musical styles to its assured, surrealistic wordplay, Beck's debut album, Mellow Gold, is a stunner. Throughout the record, Beck plays as if there are no divisions between musical genres, freely blending rock, rap, folk, psychedelia, and country. Although his inspired sense of humor occasionally plays like he's a smirking, irony-addled hipster, his music is never kitschy, and his wordplay is constantly inspired. Since Mellow Gold was pieced together from home-recorded tapes, it lacks a coherent production, functioning more as a stylistic sampler: there are the stoner raps of "Loser" and "Beercan," the urban folk of "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)," the mock-industrial onslaught of "Mutherfuker," the garagey "Fuckin' With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock)," the trancy acoustic "Blackhole," and the gently sardonic folk-rock of "Nitemare Hippy Girl." It's a dizzying demonstration of musical skills, yet it's all tied together by a simple yet clever sense of songcraft and a truly original lyrical viewpoint, one that's basic yet as colorful as free verse. By blending boundaries so thoroughly and intoxicatingly, Mellow Gold established a new vein of alternative rock, one that was fueled by ideas instead of attitude. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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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

According to party line, neither Beck nor Geffen ever intended Mutations to be considered as the official follow-up to Odelay, his Grammy-winning breakthrough. It was more like One Foot in the Grave, designed to be an off-kilter, subdued collection of acoustic-based songs pitched halfway between psychedelic country blues and lo-fi folk. The presence of producer Nigel Godrich, the man who helmed Radiohead's acclaimed OK Computer, makes such claims dubious. Godrich is not a slick producer, but he's no Calvin Johnson, either, and Mutations has an appropriately clean, trippy feel. There's little question that with the blues, country, psych, bossa nova, and folk that comprise it, Mutations was never meant to be a commercial endeavor -- there's no floor-shaker like "Where It's At," and it doesn't trade in the junk culture that brought Odelay to life. Recording with his touring band -- marking the first time he has entered the studio with a live band -- does result in a different sound, but it's not so much a departure as it is a side road that is going in the same direction. None of the songs explore new territory, but they're rich, lyrically and musically. There's an off-the-cuff wit to the songwriting, especially on "Canceled Check" and "Bottle of Blues," and the performances are natural, relaxed, and laid-back, without ever sounding complacent. In fact, one of the nifty tricks of Mutations is how it sounds simple upon the first listen, then reveals more psychedelic layers upon each play. Beck is not only a startling songwriter -- his best songs are simultaneously modern and timeless -- he is a sharp record-maker, crafting albums that sound distinct and original, no matter how much they may borrow. In its own quiet, organic way, Mutations confirms this as much as either Mellow Gold or Odelay. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Beck in the magazine