Seriously, Beck? The follow up to your big emotional tour de force is an Odelay retread? Talk about recidivism! Bah, I say! Seriously, it’s the same thing: usually guitar-led loop-driven sample pop that sounds like the early 90s – but without the neat-o postmodernism that made Odelay fun to listen to! Plus, it’s not the early 90s anymore, so scratching and drum loops now just sound dated. In fact, this whole album sounds dated, and did the moment it came out. It’s dance music that you can’t dance to.
I know I’m being harsh, but is there really anything on here that’s all that good? On third or so listen I’ve come to like the stomp of “Scarecrow” and that loudass lead guitar on “Broken Drum.” Essentially, that’s all I can positively glean from this album of nostalgia for times not that great (except commercially if you are Beck’s manager) that doesn’t even have the courtesy to be weird and have stream of consciousness lyrics. Track one and lead single “E-Pro” is a total rip-off of “Devil’s Haircut,” (and that riff was sampled already from Them’s “I Can Only Give You Everything”) “Missing” fails horribly at being sad, “Hell Yes” is absolutely awful with its lazy computer-voice and the very fact that it’s called “Hell Yes,” and “Girl”? A breezy, non-ironic jaunty meh tune about “my summer girl” or perhaps “my sunlight girl”? Bah again!
Furthermore, regarding porn, it’s not violence or degradation that the internetting masses are seeking – it’s submission, something which was impossible to find before the era of amateur porn and even now difficult to locate thanks to the fact that anyone likely to star in their own porn movie and upload it is going to be confident and sexually uninhibited. Most of the “degrading” things I see decried – the exuberant lust for facials, blank expressions, and the enjoyment of performers looking like they don’t want to be doing what they are – it is probably misogynistic in some way, but in a far less troubling way than blogs like Feministing (which I read and enjoy and generally agree with) seem to think. Submission is incredibly sexy, but hard to find in legitimate form, and it is the desire for this genuineness which drives a lot of the porn trolls out there. Aside from all the ones into crazy fetishes – fuck, what is wrong with some of you people? And because you asked, the reason why I don’t think it is indicative of any serious problem in society is that there’s no shortage of submissiveness in real life. Lots and lots of sex involves good times with men getting their little chance to play leader in bed in a consensual, enjoyable manner. It isn’t so in the wacky world of people who want to film themselves fucking where something cute like shyness is not often to be found.
That said, This is a good album for swaggering, but in a pathetic, outdated kind of way. There’s SUCH better swagger music out there that this makes me feel old when I catch myself liking it. While it’s rarely terrible, passable swagger music is very disappointing coming from a lovable scutterbug like Beck. No, you cannot redeem yourself by yelling “James Joyce” in the breakdown of “Que Ondo Guero.”