Vinyl Vlog 428

Vinyl Vlog 428

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Tuesday, 07 July 2020
COLUMN

Beck
Hyperspace

(photo: turntablelab.com)

I owe a lot to Beck. Scratch that, I owe a ton to Beck. I owe him because he taught me what good music should sound like. Jon Spencer once said that good music should sound a little weird and he’s right. As a kid in high school, hearing Odelay for the first time, it was simply too much for my little brain to handle. I felt like I should really do the work and understand the album. I played it every day, multiple times. I could pick out the popular tracks, of course, like Where It’s At and Devil’s Haircut, but I couldn’t understand why the weird parts in Odelay were so weird. Why have all these samples? Why so many synthesizers and not just guitars, drum and bass? Why the distortion? Why the psychedelia? Basically, I was complaining why the record wasn’t more boring. But after putting in all the work, I finally came to understand that it’s the originality of Odelay that makes it so special and stand out. It’s still a testament of its time and has aged wonderfully, simply because nothing else has ever sounded like it.

So, as you can understand, Beck will always be a welcome addition to my playlist.

From his third album to his fourteenth is a big jump, and if there’s one thing Beck has done in those 20 years is explore genres. If you were a fan, your world was about to open up. Beck has done country, folk, dance, and rock albums fairly successfully, and this, his latest, Hyperspace is a pop record. A straight up pop record, co written and produced with Pharell Williams.

I gave this album a shot. I really did. I gave it plenty of shots. And what I’m left with is a head scratcher. I don’t listen to pop music for a reason, which is that I find it terribly uninteresting. If Hyperspace is an accurate representation of the current state of pop music, then you know where I’m going with this. Hyperspace has songs with strong backbones, that unfortunately sound bland and watered down. Like something you would hear in a department store. It’s almost as if they’ve been toned down in order to make them more accessible. It’s something high school me would have wanted, and we all know high school me was wrong. Some tracks stick out like Dark Places (which sounds straight out of Midnite Vultures) and Saw Lightning (only because the chorus of “ho-ho-ho, hee-hee-hee, ha-ha-ha is so bad), but Hyperspace frankly is just layers of synthesizers and 80s effects. The only true highlight is the closer Everlasting Nothing which has the energy and soul of a Beck song at its best. A fine way to end the album.

Beck’s albums always have stellar artwork that fit perfectly with a vinyl format. Hyperspace comes in a beautiful gatefold with a printed insert highlighting the stellar artwork and photography of the album. Also the vinyl is colored (if you get the indie exclusive) and has that smoke machine color that would fit a in a club in the 80s.

Of course there are plenty of people out there who will fit right at home with the music on Hyperspace, and Beck has always been one to change styles, so I’m not complaining. I’m still a fan and will surely revisit this album in the future. Maybe it’s ahead of its time for me. Maybe I’ll get it in 2080.

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