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

The singer's new work drops today.

ByALLAN RAIBLE
October 13, 2017, 10:45 AM
PHOTO: Beck performs onstage during KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Forum, Dec. 11, 2016, in Inglewood, Calif.
Beck performs onstage during KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Forum, Dec. 11, 2016, in Inglewood, Calif.
Scott Dudelson/WireImage/Getty Images

— -- 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.

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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