Beck – Colours review
To change or not to change: it’s a question musicians regularly confront, with the answer usually ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. After nailing a style down so well that to continue in that vein is to repeat oneself, artists risk accusations of forsaking their fans if they alter their approach, and of treading water if they don’t.
But Beck, somehow, has never had that problem, and his latest is a direct response to his last, 2014’s bittersweet Morning Phase. A riot of – as its title suggests – colourful pop, it couldn’t be further from its predecessor, which, in turn, was a departure from 2008’s Dangermouse- produced Modern Guilt, in turn a step away from 2006’s hip- hop influenced The Information (continue ad infinitum…) Unlike Morning Phase – a companion piece to 2002’s remarkable Sea Change, proving Beck isn’t afraid of revisiting territory, if only a dozen years on – Colors is dominated by up-tempo tracks.
In fact, only two songs, the impish Dear Life – with hints of The Beatles in its piano lines and guitar solo – and the dreamy Fix Me adopt anything approaching a sensitive pace. Otherwise, it provides a breathless journey through Beck’s Technicolor world, beginning with the title track, whose production – shared by Beck, Greg Kurstin and Cole M.G.N. – is so sophisticated the melody of its chorus is pieced together like a puzzle of interlocking sounds and voices.
I’m So Free finds him spitting rhymes like a highly- strung Prince before an entirely unexpected, Nirvana-inspired chorus, while No Distraction allows the rapid pitter-patter of drums to drive its beefed-up Police sound. A number of the album’s songs are also distinguished by cute little riffs: Dreams’ whip-like guitar introduction, and the frisky keyboard at the end of its chorus; the piano line over which Square One’s verse cavorts; the almost hidden, curlicued keyboard line snaking through Seventh Heaven.
“That the album’s been worked on since 2013 is evident in such richness of detail, and even if, at times, it sounds as though his thunder’s been borrowed by Phoenix – notably on Up All Night – it’s still unmistakably, defiantly Beck.” – Wyndham Wallace
Colors is best encapsulated, however, by Wow, a song of such wonder and irresistible nonsense – its lyrics, like most of the record’s, bob out of reach like colourful balloons – that it’s as fun as a double rainbow on Sesame Street. What will follow is anyone’s guess.