A far cry from the sound of his guitar-driven 1994 smash hit “Loser,” Beck presents a set of uplifting club-worthy beats and unconventionally clever lyrics in his newly released album, Colors. Having worked on projects ranging from a traditional cover of Elvis’s iconic “Can’t Help Falling in Love” to a feature on DJ-of-the-moment Flume’s explosive “Tiny Cities” in the years following his folk infused Morning Phase album, Beck pulls elements from all genres to conjure up a colorful and original pop masterpiece in Colors.
Beck first teased the new project in 2015 with the release of the unapologetically happy-go-lucky “Dreams,” a single from the album. The album features both the single and “Colors Mix” versions of the song, the former being the explicit version that commands “Ah, stop f—king with my dreams, dreams, yeah.” The artist combines various acoustic and electric guitar riffs with techno piano and booming drums to deliver the “light-year from reality” dream of a song.
“Wow,” another single from the album, employs a trap beat to accompany hilariously nonsensical lyrics like “Wanna move into a fool’s gold room / With my pulse on the animal jewels.” “Up All Night,” yet another single, continues the carefree party attitude of “Wow” and “Dreams.” Beck effortlessly fuses a busy pop beat chorus and a classical violin in the love-drunk anthem.
Even the slower, more mellow tracks “Dear Life” and “Fix Me” stay in line with the airy vibe of the album. Piano-driven “Dear Life” questions “How long must I wait / Before the thrill is gone,” while the untroubled lullaby “Fix Me” presents a paradoxical response to Coldplay’s “Fix You.” While Coldplay’s tragic hit optimistically claims “Lights will guide you home,” Beck’s similarly-titled “Fix Me” retorts “The dark skies follow / And you don’t know where you’ve gone.” Despite a seemingly dark message throughout, Beck ends the song with the words “I’m set free,” once again solidifying the artist’s choice of happiness on this album.
“No Distraction” details the confusion in a relationship plagued by commitment issues. The chorus promises “No distraction / Can I, can I be with you?” but the quick beat of the song implies a certain fleetingness. Adding to the element of time in the song, the pace of the tick-tock drums subtly quickens in the chorus. The sound is somewhat reminiscent of that of The Kooks’ lesser known Listen, an album full of uplifting pop-rock simplicity.
“Seventh Heaven,” a combination of clever lyrics and a radio-hit beat would be fitting on any current mainstream pop-artist’s album. Meanwhile, “I’m So Free” includes a rap-like vocal. “Square One” again introduces the concept of colors, imagining “A chameleon changing colors on demand,” and smart lyrics, like “Keep your eyes on the consolation prize / When you lower your expectations.” While original and interesting in their own right, these songs stand out less than the other tracks on the album.
The title track, “Colors” embodies the liveliness of the album with the repeated line “Tell me, do you feel alive?” and ensuing pop-synth beat. The track sounds spacey and futuristic and is full of choppy lines like “I see you” and “I need you.” However, the multi-faceted rhythm of the song induces a feeling of synesthesia for listeners, forcing Beck’s audience to see and feel the same colors he envisions.
Despite releasing his first album in 1988, nearly 30 years ago, Beck proves his ability to innovate and stay relevant in the current music scene on Colors. The techno-pop album includes an abundance of tracks with radio hit potential and showcases the now-47-year-old artist’s impressive musical talents, including writing, producing, and playing instruments ranging from the glockenspiel to the guitar.
Featured Image by Capitol Records