Beck Is at His Most Uninhibited on Funk Pop Album ‘Colors’
Beck’s new album has been in the works since 2013. Upon learning this, you may immediately assume “Colors” would be full of thoughtful, meaningful ballads like his previous, and much acclaimed “Morning Phase” project. This time around Beck went for all the shades of the rainbow. From bouncy indie pop to straight-up funk, the thirteenth studio album from the beloved anti-folk artist comes at the perfect time in his storied discography.
Beck can craft the hell out of song. The first taste of which comes from the lead-off title-track with it worldly, dance-heavy sound featuring African flutes and moments of modulated singing making it an intriguing mix of old and new. This song’s accompanied by what he calls a “slime visualizer” video which basically shows oddly satisfying clips of hands playing around with various forms of colorful putty.
In an even more satisfying video, “Up All Night” shows a knight in shining armor in the form of a teenage girl rescuing her dudemar from from riotous high-school party. Again, in true Beck fashion, the beats are fun, playful, friendly and provide a solid score to such a party. White-boy funk is all over this record.
“Dreams” was the first single fans heard all the way back in 2015, just one year after his previous, Grammy-award winning album. Beck wanted this tune to be the on the other side of the sonically melodramatic, down-tempo “Morning Phase,” and this he certainly accomplished. “Dreams” is, once again, dance-heavy, deeply indie and groovy. Beck said of the single that he wanted to “make something that would be good to play live.” The track was a massive success making the ranks of some music magazine’s top songs of the year.
It wasn’t long after this that he released “Wow,” a hip-hop-esque improv song which Beck created on a whim in the studio. “I didn’t even mean to release it,” he told KROQ in 2016, “I was working on another song and came up with the riff and then I just started freestyling.” “I’m So Free” also finds him working on his rhymes. In a truly diverse deep-cut, this one goes from classic Beck pop verses to hard-hitting electric guitar raps to glossy choruses. “I’m So Free” wouldn’t be out of place on any 90’s rom-com soundtrack.
“Fix Me” is the only stark contrast that you’ll find on the entire album. This cut labors on sensitivity and vulnerability finding Beck opening up with lines such as “I don’t mind/if the sea washes/over the city tonight” and “You might fix me/you might crush me/take a little piece of me.” This, over a dreamy, chilled-out song of harmonies and sentiment. A blip of gray on the Pollock painting where each spot is a different color, but a bright color nonetheless.
Beck described this album as “pretty diverse” but with songs that “fit together.” This is easily understood upon first-listen. While each song is inherently unique, they all fall under the guise of his signature brand of indie-party-pop. Among all of the now 47-year-old’s profound discography, “Colors” stands out for its ability to be both modern and retro. This album makes as much sense today as it would back at the start of his career. A refreshing reminder of what this legendary musician is capable of.
“Colors” is available Oct. 13 on Apple Music.