Culling The Herd: Beck

Read the original "Culling the Herd" post here.

Beck, "Odelay" - 5 stars.  Dig it.

My first exposure to Beck was the single "Loser," which my then-wife hated but that I loved.  It came out around the time that grunge was maturing, and the radio seemed to be filled with all sorts of Nirvana-esque dirty sound.  I wasn't a fan, but it didn't bother me..."Loser" took some of that dirty sound and layered a great sing-along hook on top of it.  A really good song that I don't have.

As a followup to  that, Beck released "Odelay," which took some of the sonic experimentation and layered hooks hinted in "Loser" and pushed them a step further.  Surprisingly, it holds up really well - "Devil's Haircut" grabs you right out of the box, and "Hotwax" continues it.  "Lord Only Knows" slows things up a bit, but the rest of the record continues the theme of layered, found sound - but always always always in the service of The Hook...and just about every song has one.  There are a couple of slower songs that I tend to skip, but in general it's a keeper.

Beck, "Sea Change" - 2 stars.  Bury it.

Sadly, the record Beck released 6 years and 3 albums later just isn't as good.  Beck is still, it should be said, really, really talented and deserves enough slack in the rope to do what he thinks works.  His instincts are generally good - but I can't help but think he needed a hard-assed producer to tell him to quit lagging and pick up the pace.  It's not a bad record per se, but it just kinda lays there.  We'll see a few more examples of this later, where an artist (cough...Marshall Crenshaw...) really needed someone to drive things harder. This is one of those.  I'm gonna delete it, with some measure of regret.