Beck – Colors
If you ever needed even more proof that Beck does what he wants (where have you been the past 20-odd years?) you’ll find it on Colors.
After winning the extremely coveted Album of the Year Grammy for his mellow, introspective 2014 record Morning Phase, he’s completely turned his back on whatever new audience that album might have won him and turned in a bright and kinda ostentatious pop record.
This is a purposely slick piece of music that sees Beck team up with Greg Kurstin – who has wrote more pop hits than just about anyone else in the past decade or so – to make a pop album with a few Beck-like twists.
Previous singles ‘Dreams’ and the Elliott Smith-meets-classic rock ‘Dear Life’ turned out to be a perfect primer for what was to come and, unsurprisingly they are the album’s finest moments.
All of the other tracks glisten in similar ways; ‘Seventh Heaven’ is a dreamy piece of psychedelic pop, ‘I’m So Free’ is part-power-pop swagger/part-bombastic, anthemic anthem and ‘Up All Night’ honestly could have ended up on Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.
Even the album’s most emo moment, closing track ‘Fix Me’ has the same distanced sheen of someone like The Postal Service, rather than the intimate whisper of Beck’s own maudlin past efforts.
It’s all slick, but it’s not all good. ‘Wow’ might be the worst thing Beck has ever done. A half-baked attempt at modern hip hop that makes him sound even whiter and older than he is. If you’re trying to cast as wide a net as Beck is, you’re bound to fall short every now and then, but he should know better than this.
There’s no way Colors ranks among Beck’s best work, no matter how much you might want it to. But as a modern pop record it’s deeper than most and, most of the time, just as fun.
If you find yourself lamenting the slick, overtly accessible sheen of Colors, just remember that some people were jarred by the funk of Midnight Vultures and the lush misery of Sea Change. Beck needs to keep doing new things, he needs to keep succeeding, failing, alienating and winning new fans. The moment he keeps doing what he’s always done, he stops being Beck.