Beck Stages Return With New Non-Album, ‘Song Reader’

Beck's latest is a collection of 20 songs ... available only as sheet music for fans to record.

It’s been more than four years since Beck released a proper album … and, well, the wait continues.

Instead, while fans patiently clamor for the follow-up to 2008′s Modern Guilt , Beck has put the finishing touches on “Beck Hansen’s Song Reader,” an album that is not actually an album in any conceivable way (despite what its accompanying press release might insist), mostly because it is a book. Of sheet music.

Oh, and if you want to actually hear any of the music, well, you’re probably going to have to learn to play the ukulele. Confused? Here’s a statement from Beck’s reps about the project, which will be released in December by publishing house McSweeney’s:

“In the wake of Modern Guilt and [2006's] The Information , Beck’s latest album comes in an almost-forgotten form — twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded,” the statement reads, in part. “Complete with full-color, heyday-of-home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and, when necessary, ukulele notation), the ‘Song Reader’ is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012.

“The songs here are as unfailingly exciting as you’d expect from their author,” the statement continues. “But if you want to hear ‘Do We? We Do,’ or ‘Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,’ bringing them to life depends on you.”

As an added incentive, fan’s renditions of the new songs will be featured on McSweeney’s website. Oh, and in case you can’t actually play a musical instrument, well, you can still admire the pretty pictures that come along with the “Song Reader,” including original artwork from Marcel Dzama (who did the cover of Beck’s Guero album), Leanne Shapton, Josh Cochran and more. There’s also an introduction by Slate’s Jody Rosen and a foreword by Beck himself. So it’s not just sheet music.

There’s no firm release date for Beck’s new (not) album just yet … though fans are encouraged to check out his official site for all the latest.