“COLORS” (Capi­tol Records.)

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Music -

Singer-song­writer Beck has never been very good at hid­ing how he's feel­ing. If you made it through the de­feated melan­choly of "Sea Change" with­out want­ing to hurl your­self off a cliff, con­grats. But the thing is, Beck doesn't hide when he's happy ei­ther.

A very dif­fer­ent Beck comes across on "Colors," a hook-driven bub­bly CD he made with in-de­mand pro­ducer Greg Kurstin, best known for his work with Adele, Kelly Clark­son, Sia and the Foo Fighters. Beck might be known more for his finely tuned downer rock, but he's mostly angst-free here. One song is even ti­tled "I'm So Free." (The new tune "Fix Me" — a per­fect ti­tle for the old Beck — turns out not to be mourn­ful at all.)

The 10-track "Colors" is Beck's most ac­ces­si­ble, ra­dio-friendly of­fer­ing in years but, this be­ing Beck, it's bril­liantly lay­ered, with plenty of in­ter­est­ing things hap­pen­ing un­der the hood. There's pan flute, hand­claps and glock­en­spiel on it, for good­ness' sake.

Beck hasn't been this overtly poppy since "Mid­nite Vul­tures" in 1999 but that was harsh-sound­ing and more than a lit­tle nutty in com­par­i­son. "Colors" is smooth and warm and light. In fact, there are plenty of al­lu­sions to Beck emerg­ing from dark­ness.

"Found our way through the lost years/ Now the day brings it all here," he sings in the ti­tle song.

We got a good hint this di­rec­tion was com­ing in 2015 when Beck re­leased "Dreams" from the new al­bum. It's a strummy, drum­driven dance song that's all about putting your arms in the air but be­lied by lyrics about "trou­ble on the way."

Other songs tum­ble from a happy place. The su­per "Up All Night" is a sweet song about older lovers — or maybe happy dads tak­ing care of ba­bies — in the quiet hours when "night is crawl­ing up to the day." ''No Dis­trac­tion" feels rem­i­nis­cent of The Fixx and "Sev­enth Heaven" sounds like some­thing from The Stone Roses. "Square One" finds Beck go­ing in and out of his falsetto beau­ti­fully to cre­ate a per­fect slice of shim­mer­ing pop.

Per­haps the most un­con­ven­tional song is "Wow," a trippy, cow­boy-dance hip-hop tune that swipes the theme from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" and adds it to lyrics seem­ingly in­spired by some weed. ("Wow/ It's like right now/ It's like wow.") It should not make sense. But this is Beck, and he some­how makes it so. Ac­tu­ally, that goes for the whole CD, too.

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