Beck revisits past on ‘Colors’
Beck was supposed to be a one-hit wonder, but more than two decades after “Loser,” he remains an artist to be reckoned with. His previous release, “Morning Phase,” even earned him his first album of the year Grammy in 2015.
But if you have the sneaking feeling that somehow you’ve already heard his recent albums, it’s because you have. With “Colors” (Capitol), his 13th album, Beck continues to move forward by mining his past. Just as “My Morning Phase” revisited the melancholy tone and texture of his superior 2002 release “Sea Change,” “Colors” dives back into the genre hopscotch of playful ’90s releases such as “Odelay” and “Midnite Vultures.” Though both of the more recent albums are perfectly accomplished, they’re more about studio craft than inventiveness.
The highlight of the downbeat “Morning Phase” was the exquisite string arrangements by Beck’s father, David Campbell. On “Colors,” the star is the impeccable studio genre-mixing engineered by Beck and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, a former Beck tour keyboardist who has worked with artists such as Adele and Katy Perry. Kurstin and Beck co-wrote most of the songs and played most of the instruments — a little two-man band that put a premium on melodies and snappy hooks.
As its name implies, “Colors” is all about surfaces and a kaleidoscopic range of musical styles: There’s a little bit of new wave, psychedelia, electronica, off-kilter rapping that echoes “Odelay,” and plenty of plastic soul sung in falsetto a la “Midnite Vultures.”
As its name implies, Beck’s new album, “Colors,” is all about surfaces and a kaleidoscope of musical styles.