December 2006

Beck - The Information
Interscope Records 0007576
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Going boldly into the fray and emerging with smart, highly influential tunes, Beck Hanson has repeatedly defied categorization. Now, less than a year after releasing the funktackular Guerro, he is back to deliver us vigorously from pop hell with The Information. Casio beats, old-school rap samples, and the occasional orchestral arrangement form the outline of his sound, while his creative and lyrical artistry navigates us through the 15 groove-laden tracks.

On past albums, Beck has been known to exploit and bend genres to the point of hilarity, but this album attempts something broader in scope and more unifying. Styles overlap and are condensed, lines of distinction are blurred, and the result is something beautifully cohesive, though strangely enigmatic. Audible influences span from the Rolling Stones ("Strange Apparition") to Nirvana ("Movie Theme") to hip-hop’s Dr. Octagon ("1000 BPM"). Whispered poetic longings that recall 2004’s Sea Change make a repeat appearance on a few tracks, but don’t fret that this album is entirely like that emotionally purgative one; absurd rhymes ( la Mellow Gold) and mind-bending conundrums are flung about as often as the waxed poetic here.

If the alternative stylistic approach isn’t crafty enough for you, the CD also comes with a bonus DVD featuring videos for every song on the album and DIY cover art consisting of stickers and iron-on transfers. Oh, Beck! So avant-garde!