He's rapped and rocked, funked it up and folked it up, and now Beck, whose musical eclecticism makes Madonna look like the Ramones, is getting ready to sweep his fans away with what might be his most passionate and personal album to date.
The yet-untitled record, his first since Midnite Vultures (1999), was completed May 7, and is scheduled for release September 24. Like his 1998 disc, Mutations, the album is largely composed of reflective acoustic-based tunes that showcase Beck's singer/songwriter side. Yet it's even more dusky and dynamic.
"The Golden Age" is a mellow sliver of gold that starts with a lazy guitar strum and woozy slide and becomes no more energetic, reveling in its reflective reverie with lines like "Sun don't shine even when its day/ Drive all night, feel like you're OK."
"Lost Cause" is more sparse and melancholy, driven by a folksy guitar passage and soft, sedated vocals and embellished with soft brush drumming. The track like many on the record seems to be about the singer's romantic woes, which might explain the confessional vibe of the new batch of material: "Starry nights cut to the bone/ Make it hard to leave you alone/ Leave you here wearing your wounds/ Waving your guns, somebody new."
Beck picks up the pace a piece on "Paper Tiger," which is reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg. The song starts delicately, but builds with trippy, rockin' guitar licks and swirling strings. "Guess I'm Doing Fine" is a woeful declaration of survival filled with gentle strums and poignant organ, sounding like something from Neil Young's Harvest Moon.
Nigel Godrich, who worked on Mutations as well as the past four Radiohead records, produced the disc, which was recorded and mixed in two months at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles. (see "Beck Entering Studio To Work On Acoustic-Based LP").
Before working with Godrich, Beck recorded tracks with Dan "The Automator" Nakamura. Those songs, and others the pair are currently working on, will likely be released in the future on another disc, said Beck's management.
Beck was joined for the Godrich sessions by guitarist Smokey Hormel, bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen, keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr., drummers James Gatson and Joey Waronker and cellist Suzie Katayama. The record will again feature string arrangements by Beck's father, David Campbell, an award-winning arranger who has worked with Eric Clapton, Aerosmith and Alanis Morissette, among others.
The iconoclastic artist will embark on a small theatre jaunt in August with a larger tour to follow in October.
The tracklist for Beck's next album, according to www.beck.com:
- "The Golden Age"
- "All in Your Mind"
- "Paper Tiger"
- "Guess I'm Doing Fine"
- "Already Dead"
- "Round the Bend"
- "Side of the Road"
- "Lonesome Tears"
- "Little One"
- "Nothing I Haven't Seen"
- "Lost Cause"
- "Sunday Sun"
- "Ship in a Bottle"
[This story was updated at 11:54 A.M. EST on 05.31.02.]