Beck – Mutations

Ever hear the song “Nobody’s Fault But My Own” off of this album? Grinding pure blues with vaguely Indian influences, super sombre, Beck sounding like a tired old man singing “these wasted blues….these wasted blues…tell me that it’s nobody’s fault / Nobody’s fault / But my own” Like four times? Makes you want to drink until you’re sleeping on your floor, if not kill yourself over and over again while playing I Wanna Be The Guy? Well, it’s on here. And it’s the only thing on there like it. Congrats. See the above review for One Foot in the Grave? Well, repeat, with that sizable caveat and more instruments.

Sure, he takes on lots of moods here: there’s lounge, sadness, silly, and probably others, but it’s all in the same more or less offhand, breezy style. I’m not going to say he’s saying nothing, but I think it’s safe to assert that there’s no cohesiveness, just a bunch of songs with word association lyrics and varying moods, and the occasional song-destroying song effect (see the squeaky guitar sounds on “Tropicalia” and the wah-wah-ing bass on “Cold Brains). I stutter to say it’s even whelming, this here record, and it’s a shame because if there was more to it it could be more than what it is: a great come-down record with little staying power.

It’s not like it’s hard to blame Beck – he now has critical success to go with his earlier commercial success, and from what I hears there was quite the struggle with his label over whether to release this as a major album or a minor one, and I don’t know who won, but it’s definitely more of a non-blockbuster release. Sadly. our little Becky (who I still like, Be Your Own Pet) doesn’t have the same panache for his mostly-acoustic meanderings, and the mid-90s production style doesn’t help.

That’s all quite a bit critical. It’s a nice album. Very nice. All acoustic guithar-led and such. Lots of styles and “Everybody Hurts”ish arpeggios. And I like “Sing It Again” more than your average pigeon. But come on man, get to the next one with suffering! My drinking alone on weeknights has fallen out of practice here.

Also, there are a couple of bonus tracks on mine. “Diamond Bollocks” is a super jumpy confused-sounder with the only real disorted riff on the album (but it falls apart quite a bit), and the excellent “Runners Dial Zero” is a neat-o early Moby-esque sad piano-led song that’ll make you question your life just a bit. Good times!

7/10

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