Beck – Mellow Gold

I’m studying psychology! If you’re happy and you know it read about metabotropic glutamate receptors! And review Beck albums.

It’s actually the middle of summer now, a good four months after I wrote that intro minigraph (patent on the word pending) that contains a line I like and so I will keep. But this isn’t about me, damnit, even though I know you’d all rather here about when I was at the Modest Mouse show Sunday or how I had a fight with my girlfriend about her getting a lip piercing that means I can’t kiss or drink with her for two weeks. It was somewhat resolved when I realized that the former doesn’t necessarily have to impede our sex lives – it just means less foreplay! and less foreplay can be useful for a guy, because though you might not think about it at the time, all that pre-sex stroking and oral is time ticking away off your orgasm clock! being without it ain’t that bad! So now all I need to do is apply some gentle peer pressure so she’ll risk infection to drink with me and we’ll be all set. Ho ho, that was mighty personal!

Which brings us to the new Beck al-

(paragraph break)

-bum, which could either be entirely autobiographical or not, it’s completely impossible to tell. We DO know that he was poor and meant the chorus of “Loser” (“soy un perdedor / I’m a loser baby / So why don’t you kill me”) somewhat literally (yeah, esp. that Spanish part), and he probably DID work a lot shitty low-wage fast food jobs like the ones he talks about in “Sweet Sunshine” and “Soul Suckin’ Jerk”, I can see him having a “Nitemare Hippy Girl” girlfriend, and the housemates in “truckdrivin’ neighbours downstairs” may have existed, but I have no way of knowing if it’s real or not. What I DO know, though, is that a) I seem to like capitalizing forms of the verb “do” this paragraph, and b) I love hearing about these things! And when Beck’s not telling wacky, both depressing and amusing stories, he’s waxing distraught about death (“Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997”, “Blackhole”) or waxing pomo on us (“Loser”, “Pay No Mind”, “Beercan”) about modern life and cities. I’d provide lyrical examples, but my internet isn’t working right now and I’m not writing them all out for myself…just trust me that they’re all GREAT except for the occasional weird line that doesn’t work (“Like a giant dildo crushing the sun”?) .

Now let’s talk music. You can’t put this album in one genre – a couple songs are rock, a couple are whiteblueshiphop, there’s acoustic ballading, but all of us are toyed with and given great spins. He’s all about the unusual instrumentation and studio trickery, and then some of the songs combine these elements – and they’re still great! Some notes on some o’ my favourites:

“Loser” – classic, delta-blues riff, hip-hop drums and white-boy rapped pomo lyrics to go with that anthemic chorus (that, according to beck, wasn’t meant in a slackery, sarcastic way when written)

‘Pay No Mind” – pay no mind – “give the finger to rock ‘n’ roll singer / as he’s dancing on your paycheque”

“like a giant dildo crushing the sun”?, harmonica solo, groovy and laid-back

mountain dew rock – both riffs sound like “your roommate plays the songs of the imaginary band generica” but it still sounds great!

Okay, that’s all my notes, but let me also mention “Truckdrivin’ Neighbours Downstairs” which starts with an actual tape recording of these two apparent existent characters having the following hilarious argument:

A: Come on motherfucker! Put your clothes on! come on!

B: You lousy Kid! Why don’t you call your mommy?

A: You’re a fucking drunk!

B: Yeah, I’m a fucking drunk, but you’re a lousy lowlife who can’t do nothing for himself!

before becoming a great acoustic stomper with more hilarious lyrics sung with a funny (but fitting and not annoying) slowed-down ultra-low voice.

Also, “Black Hole” is a perfect swooshy acoustic closer, “Motherfuker” is a classic paranoid rocker, “Beercan” has one of catchiest basslines and choruses ever, and the whole thing’d be a 10/10 if “Sweet Sunshine” and the end of “Soul Suckin’ Jerk” didn’t suck so much. It’s a classic that few artists (Beck included) have equalled in sheer enjoyability. It’s also the only collusion of experimental Beck and listenable Beck. After this he just put on various personas, kinda like Bowie only without the part about following trends.

9/10

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