Beck – Colors (2017)

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Beck is still creating musical collages of wide genre styles, building on a career that encompasses folk, funk, soul, hip hop, electronic, alternative rock, country, and psychedelia. A chameleon, this singer, songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist continues to shake things up on Colors.

I recommend this album to anyone who is open minded. Those with preconceived notions about who Beck is as an artist, or expects a nostalgic return to his “Loser” era, might be disappointed. Colors is more mature, a well-crafted and thought-out piece of work featuring a cornucopia of subject matter that offers a little bit of something for everyone. One thread that doesn’t seem to change throughout the record is its tempo and mood: Colors is a symphony of happiness.

Beck keeps these dance-oriented songs from becoming rote by consistently adding unique twists that make them stand out. For instance, “Dreams” – presented here in a new mix after its original advance release back in 2015 – features Beck’s high-pitched, raspy voice set to a country-inflected riff. It’s all propelled by lots of drums and a wonderful pumping bass line, making “Dreams” reminiscent of the music of the ’70s.

In contrast, the more-subdued “Dear Life” slows things down a bit, and has more of a reflective tone to it. It’s heavier in nature, a tender ballad, featuring a lovely piano intro and enough of a groove to keep it firmly anchored in the album’s sound.

Beck not only plays with various musical genres and styles on Colors, but various musical eras as well. With “I’m So Free,” Beck again goes back to a ’70s feel. It’s an up-tempo, disco-inspired tune where the drums and bass guitar are rich and plentiful. The song, which comes complete with rocking choruses and poppy verses, is entertaining but also all over the place at times.

As always, Beck is not afraid to take risks with his music. “Up All Night,” one of the most refreshing songs on Colors, boasts many layers. From Prince to MGMT, there are plenty of old and new ingredients on full display here, entwined with the sounds of drums, keyboard and guitar.

In the end, Colors boasts a strong set of songs, and Beck’s songwriting remains melodically challenging. The only criticism of this relentlessly upbeat project is that it could be a little bit more stylistically diverse. Still, Colors highlights Beck’s ability to change musical styles so easily between albums. In typical fashion, the follow up to 2014’s somber Morning Phase is perhaps his most upbeat and funky album to date.


Kristina Mondo

Kristina Mondo

Kristina Mondo is New Jersey native, freelance writer, blogger and music enthusiast and a New Jersey Press Association Award winner. See more of her work at Off the Record: https://tunestoursandmore.wordpress.com/. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Kristina Mondo

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