Review: Beck's album 'Colors' is one of the year's best

PHOTO: Beck performs onstage during KROQs Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Forum, Dec. 11, 2016, in Inglewood, Calif.Scott Dudelson/WireImage/Getty Images
Beck performs onstage during KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Forum, Dec. 11, 2016, in Inglewood, Calif.

Beck’s “Colors”
*****

On his new album, “Colors,” Beck delivers a perfect pop statement. This is by far his most conventionally mainstream album to date, working with the modern-pop template and elevating it in the process. Singles “Dreams,” ”Wow” and “Up All Night” have all been floating around a while now, so this shift should not come as a surprise.

The record had been on the shelf for quite some time. Beck initially wanted to release this closer to his triumphant 2014 album “Morning Phase,” which got a lot of attention at the Grammys when it won album of the year. In some ways this album’s overtly commercial angle plays like a direct response to Kanye West and others who at the time seemed confused when Beck won the award over Beyoncé.

PHOTO: Beck - ColorsAmazon
Beck - "Colors"

The die-hard indie fans will probably take issue with this record’s overall shininess, as Beck and producer Greg Kurstin often pack it with the kind of energy reserved for late-'80s INXS singles. However, there are also other elements present, from the Beatle-esque piano-driven groove of “Dear Life,” to the grungy, sudden freak-out that serves as the centerpiece to “I’m So Free.”

“Colors” is indeed a bold, bright, daring move. Releasing it in October may have been a mistake. It’s a very summery record. One thing is clear: When you listen to songs like “No Distraction,” “Square One” and “Seventh Heaven,” it’s definitely evident, that while Beck may have taken a strong left turn, here, he hasn’t lost his knack for shape-shifting song-craft. After the soft, introspection of “Morning Phase,” Beck is now ready to party. Here’s hoping this record gets the airplay and the audience it deserves.

Focus Tracks:

“Fix Me” This ballad stands out from the pack. It sounds very much like it was made with the same delicate touch as the “Morning Phase”-closer, “Waking Light,” and at the same time, it sounds like it could easily get some omnipresent radio airplay. It’s beautiful and indelible.

“Up All Night” This is Beck making a dynamic club-banger. The fans who have been around since “Loser” and “Where It’s At” might need convincing the first couple spins, but this is a funky jam.

“Dear Life” This walking number has a timeless sense as Beck sings, “Dear Life / I’m holding on.” While the production sounds modern and bright, structurally speaking, this track possesses some vintage power. The closing notes where Beck harmonizes with himself play like a nod to the Beach Boys.

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