Beck: Colors Album Review



Hi I'm @pault1888 and tonight I'm going to give you a quick overview of the new Beck album, Colors. I'm actually about 2 years behind schedule doing this, the BTM Head Honchos once had me scheduled to review this album based on the original 2015 release date: cue some frantic Google searches to find that, yes, in fact @chrisclark1975 was the ONLY man in the entire world who thought it was actually being released that day...anyway, its here now and thats the main thing!

I've probably had a similar relationship with Beck to a lot of people, certainly those of my pals that are into music as much as me: I always enjoy listening to him, I find him eclectic, varied and always interesting, but even though (I think) I own all of his records, I wouldn't describe myself as a huge fan. He's just kind of been there, in the background, steadily and consistently producing good tunes for the last 20 years or so in a variety of styles and with varying degrees of success: at his best he's incredible, and also occasionally he goes off the rails and disappears up his own arse a wee bit.

I've only had the immense pleasure of seeing him play live once, in Edinburgh in 2006 supporting Radiohead at Meadowbank Stadium, and it was quite honestly one of the most interesting and unique gigs I've ever seen. To cut a long story short, he played the entire gig with a full puppet show on stage of his entire band, with the puppets playing along and miming to the live sound whilst being broadcast 'as live' on the big screens either side of the stage. I can't really put into words how great this actually was, but believe me, it was funny, musically the band were imperious, and I'll never forget that show as long as I live. Here's some video of the 'band' coming on immediately pre-gig (apologies for the quality but you'll get the drift!).

So to the album, the first since the slightly disappointing Morning Phase in 2014....I must admit to some initial disappointment when I saw the tracklisting, given two of the songs (Dreams, which came out in 2015, and Wow which was from last year) both feature, the former twice in different versions. I always get a bit nervous when stuff like that happens, almost as if there's been a shortage of creativity leading to chucking on the non-album singles as 'filler'. In this case that's probably harsh as both were great wee songs on release, but as a general principle it's a bit shoddy. Leaving all that does it sound? Read on...

The first song is the title track, Colors....I'm not quite sure how to describe this. My initial reaction was 'Simon Le Bon fronting Tame Impala covering Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads'. All of these things are positive. It's upbeat, funky, rhythmic and has panpipes. As an album opener, it sets the scene very nicely indeed.

Alan Wilson

Perfect description! Weird video though

Next up is Seventh Heaven. I'm not so sure about this one: it has a little bit of a Daryl Hall/ '80's Billy Joel vocal vibe about it (again, neither of these things should be regarded as bad). There's a tune in there trying to burst out, but it never quite emerges. It's easily one of the most forgettable songs on the album. it's not bad per se, it just feels a little bit muddled and not quite up to the mark.

I'm So Free....this starts with the Nirvana In Bloom riff, then veers towards Modern Life Is Rubbish-era Blur....with a bit of Joe Jackson rapping thrown in. Yeah, describing Beck albums isn't easy. I do like this song, it feels like one you've heard before, and embeds itself really easily in my brain.

Dear Life next up...opens up like Lady Madonna which is a great start. This is a cracking song, mid-paced and you just know it'll be a cracker of a singalong live. The instrumentation on this song is magic, piano & guitar driving it along and a great little rhythm sitting behind it. His vocals are absolutely brilliant on it too. Great tune.

No Distraction next...this feels like quite a slight song, again like Seventh Heaven I'm struggling to get a hook into it. It's ok but next to the previous song on the album it feels a bit...generic. The least Beck-sounding song on the album: if you heard this one on a Maroon 5 album you wouldn't give it a second thought. If you actually listened to a Maroon 5 album, you probably need some professional help anyway...

I'll cover the two versions of Dreams I said in the intro, this first came out over 2 years ago so you've likely heard it anyway if you've any interest at all in Beck, so there's very little I can add...the new Colors Mix has some strategic tambourine and has a bit more meat around the percussion generally, but the original version is a great song in its own right. My earlier point refers: it's a very good song, but it was a very good song when it came out too, I'm feeling a little cheated by the double inclusion on the album if I'm honest.