July 9, 2013

Max Bell is a güero for life.

If I never become a rapper and learn how to play an instrument, I’ll attempt to make music like Beck’s. That’s probably because some of his work has a definite hip-hop influence (see also, the boom-bap drums on “E-Pro“). But I think what attracted me most to Beck’s music, and what still does, is his versatility, his willingness to pull seemingly disparate forms of music together to make great songs. Before there was Yeezy(us), there was Beck. The electro breakdowns (via Mantronix) that interrupt the mellow, bluesy organ riff that drives “Where It’s At” speak for themselves. (See the incredible, extended live performance below the jump, in which Beck “rocks record labels and buffet tables,” pop locks, and does his best James Brown).

Apart from the 12-inch he did for Third Man last year, Beck appears to have been on hiatus since his 2008 Danger Mouse produced album Modern Guilt. Sure, if you play an instrument, you can count 2012’s Beck Hansen’s  Song Reader as the end of said break. But really, a true, full-length Beck project hasn’t come out in awhile.

As of late though, it looks like Beck is making his return. He’s recently announced that he will be releasing two new albums within the next year. However, he’s also said he might just release some singles. So who knows. Regardless of transpires, there are his newest singles, “Defriended” and “I Won’t Be Long” (both below the jump), both of which are/will be available on vinyl (see here).

The former, released this past June, is Beck at his most experimental. Choral chants float behind pounding, skittering drums. Synths slide sideways, and there’s even some acoustic guitar and stand-up bass. The lyrics don’t matter so much as the sense that Beck or Karen has just (unfriended) “defriended” his/her lover, who may or may not also be named Karen (?).

“I Won’t Be Long” dropped a few days ago, and it’s my favorite of the two. With Beck in full indie rock mode—the simple guitar riff, the bass line, and the sound of waves crashing—this is the sound of the most melancholic drive to meet your significant other you’ve ever taken.  At best, “I Won’t Be Long” is proof that Beck can nearly always do what you do better than you do. At worst, and when listened to just after “Defriended,”  it’s a testament to his in exhaustible sonic reach.



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