Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Information

It's quite thrilling, really. Beck gives you stickers! Design your own cover! And here, take a free bonus DVD with about 12 really crappy home-made film clips of songs from the album! It was worrisome. It smacked of the kind of thing a record company does to cover up the fact that one of their marquee names has recorded a dud. Happily, The Information is not that. Beck's too good, it seems, to produce rubbish. Even on autopilot, he still pumps out (with the help of producer Nigel Godrich) quality white boy eclecticism. The problem is, he's on autopilot. One can't quite say that The Information is bad, because it certainly isn't, but comparisons to his 1994 breakthrough, Odelay abound, and for a musical chameleon like Beck, to stagnate is to die. There's the faux-80s hip hop of lead single 'Cellphone's Dead', and the familiar latino/western/funk-on-crack gem 'Nausea'. He revisits 2001s Seachange on the swelling, moving 'Strange Apparition' and opener 'Elevator Music' is smugly ironic. These songs, amongst all the others, do not want for quality or catchiness, there's just a whiff of laziness about the whole thing. For an artist who has never taken a backwards step, what appears to be a sidestep is cause for concern. Those of us who remeber the thrill of sticking a new Beck record on the stereo pray that whatever's next will be something along the lines of a death metal record, or something similarly unexpected.
Until then, at least we can play with the stickers.

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