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Beck - The Information

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BECK continues to provide proof of his limitless artistic genius with the release of The Information, another breathtaking listen.

The album marks a return to the out and out funky hip-hop style of Odelay and is positively brimming with invention.

The album itself comes with a blank CD sleeve and a sheet of stickers for the listener to create their own cover, while accompanying the release will be a DVD of homemade videos shot during the recording of the album – one for every track featuring a host of family, friends and players.

Needless to say, the live show is another must-see accompaniment – as anyone who caught him at Shepherd’s Bush Empire or V will testify. It comprises a mini-replica stage at the back of the main stage upon which puppets recreate Beck’s band in mini-replica form.

Hence, viewers were able to watch Beck with their own eyes while the puppets behind him were filmed mimicking his every move (like I said, genius).

Musically, the album also delivers in spades. First single Cell Phone’s Dead sets the tone with a killer intro that gives way into a robotic keyboard riff and Beck’s unique rapping over the top. It’s instantly recognisable as the work of Beck, yet fresh and innovative enough to show that he is continuing to stretch himself as a performer.

The track has an undeniably funky shuffle about it that makes the feel-good vibe guaranteed.

Likewise, the effortlessly inspiring Think I’m In Love, an almighty crowd-pleaser in the style of Girl that features a terrific guitar riff and some rip-roaring beats. Lyrically, it displays Beck’s penchant for writing quirky but killer lines that roll off the tongue.

In many ways, The Information feels like a natural successor to 2005’s equally memorable Guero, or even the second part of the same story. The eclectic nature of the album remains the same, as does the generally upbeat outlook.

And in tracks like former US single Nausea it even hints at a sort of musical sequel. The track contains the same sort of down and dirty rock feel as Black Tambourine and could even be taking that song to the next stage by finishing what those beats started.

Another track, We Dance Alone is built around an electronic, robotic shuffle that’s utterly addictive, complete with haunting vocals and breakdowns galore.

Further evidence of Beck’s endless creativity is showcased by the epic finale, Horrible Fanfare/ Landslide/ Exoskeleton which takes the brilliant form of 13 minutes of dub-infected eeriness, complete with the surreal strains of Cell Phone’s Dead echoing throughout. There’s even a bizarre appearance by the shipping forecast!

Fans are advised to listen to the end to hear Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze talking about spaceships.

But then it’s only on a Beck album that you can find such moments of surreal brilliance sitting comfortably alongside such effortless crowd-pleasers as the aforementioned Think I’m In Love. The best news, however, is that Beck is continuing to have fun with his latest album and the effect is utterly infectious.

Track listing:

  1. Elevator Music
  2. Think I’m In Love
  3. Cellphone’s Dead
  4. Strange Apparition
  5. Soldier Jane
  6. Nausea
  7. New Round
  8. Dark Star
  9. We Dance Alone
  10. No Complaints
  11. 1,000BPM
  12. Motorcade
  13. Information
  14. Movie Theme
  15. Horrible Fanfare/ Landslide/ Exoskeleton
  16. Inside Out (UK bonus track)
  17. This Girl That I Know (UK bonus track)