The beginners guide to... Beck
The pop polymath is back with a brand new banger-packed album. It's time to do your homework.
Published: 3:10 pm, October 16, 2017
A masterful genius. A shape-shifting chameleon of music. An enigma. Nobody has come close to him, and it’s likely we’ll never see anyone even try. As he once again returns with a shimmering new album, join us in a quick-fire guide to the force of nature they call Beck.
There are certain people who just stand out. It’s not just because they want to be something different in life, but it’s the way they think about it. A hunger to splatter the world in whatever glorious vision that comes flying into their brains, and having the power to follow that intuition no matter what. If there’s anyone who plays the rules by their game and their game only, it’s Beck.
For nearly 25 years, he’s pulled and ripped apart the very idea of what an artist is, throwing himself down more lanes than a bowling ball. Whether it’s eye-popping rainbows of pop, gritty indie licks, sensual R&B, beat-bashing hip-hop, delicate heartbreaking acoustics or big band bonanzas - Beck has done it. What makes him an undeniable kingpin is that no matter what it may be, it keeps that feverish feeling flowing - making each turn his own and baying you in closer to savour it. In the process, he’s influenced generations of bands, even if they don’t know it. If you’re The 1975, Kanye West, Haim, St Vincent the result is the same - Beck has lead the way in a world of his own, unafraid of reinvention and the next shimmering chapter.
A jukebox of bangers at his disposable, Beck represents everything we think is exciting about music. It’s bold, it’s fresh, and it’s never the same - the idea of boring for Beck is probably what keeps him up at night tinkering away at his next big era. As his latest barn-stormer ‘Colors’ gears up to make its way into the world (which you can check our thoughts on further down the line in this ‘ol mag), here’s a good place to start on Planet Beck.
Like a peacock sashaying its way into frame, Sexx Laws is a punchy blend of big horns, bigger hooks and the sound of a party erupting in under four minutes. If there’s a crime to go down for, blaring this banger out for the neighbours to hear is probably top of the pile.
Oozing with fuzz and a chorus born to be belted out, this is the sound of Beck proving he can kick out a riff like nobody’s business. Coming slap-bang in the middle of the 00’s, it put Beck squarely on a platform of his own in the midst of guitar-laden wonderlands. Get lairy and take on the world, ‘E-Pro’ has your back.
With a brain going the speed Beck’s must be, ‘Devil’s Haircut’ is the ultimate snapshot of the off-kilter screens he projects on. With lines that seem to jump like a frog in a sock, and a shuffling backbone, it’s an anthem that likes to open itself up and see where it goes.
If there’s one banger you’d of heard of, it’s this. Yeah yeah, everyone thinks they know the chorus and ya mate has tried to rap-along at 1am in the morning at you (just us?), but this was the moment where Beck invaded the mainstream. It’s not been the same since.
Where It’s At
Sounding like a message from outer space, the chiming organ blues and boom-bap breakdowns was a game-changer in the mid-90s. Sounding like he was speaking from the heart of a desert, it’s a lightning bolt of a master at work.
Iconic. One of the true landmark alternative albums of the 90s, ‘Odelay’ dares to go where nobody would even contemplate - full of big-time radio hits that didn’t fit into any mould, but forced everyone to readjust their own understanding of what music could be. Hip-hop, bluegrass, fuzz and pop? Now that’s a mix.
After the pogoing fireworks, Beck’s first album of the 21st century was his most personal - a raw and devastatingly beautiful album of heartache and loss that pushed his delicate and beautiful songwriting to the core. Still one of the best break-up albums of all time, we’re going to go grab a hankie for this one.
Almost a decade on from his breakthrough, ‘Guero’ was the reaffirming statement of intent of a man set and ready to embrace the next chapter. Once again morphing genres and shapes into his own image, cuts like ‘E-Pro’, ‘Girl’ and ‘Black Tambourine’ helped Beck shine a light on everything missing in a new century - and welcome it all with bang.
There was a time where many thought Beck was done. Rumours of ill health and retirement, ‘Morning Phase’ was a lush platter to put everything to bed. Aesthetically warm and marking a throwback to the raw tones of ‘Sea Change’. It won him a bunch of Grammys and heralded the return of an icon.
Beck’s latest album is a jolt in the arm to a world all over the shop. One big pop party plastered across the walls for all to see, it takes Beach Boys melodies, Beatles swoons and modern pop glides to form a cake of moreish delight. An invitation to throw away fear and embrace joy.
Beck's new album 'Colors' is out now.
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