Well, I was supposed to write this review something like a month ago, but you get into the habit of not writing anything and spending your days hanging out at restauarants with friends or cavorting with your girlfriend or just softly drinking yourself to sleep at night and the little ability to write like a funny disappears along with your ability to write much about mostly inconsequential releases like this one. So lets get back to writing those small, mostly worthless reviews eh! (Hi, I’m Canadian.)
Here we see Beck with, yes, another release consisting of folk/blues songs, along with one mediocre Neil-Young country thumper and two horrible and horribly out of place “rockers” that have no place existing at all, especially “Burnt Orange Peel” with its awful awful high-pitched “woo woo-oo ooh!” vocals that Beck should never ever attempt to sing and certainly should never ever write. The other ones just unexceptional. But then, none of these songs are exceptional – for once there really aren’t any major highlights (even if I’m partial to the jackalacking-on-Woody-Guthrie “He’s A Mighty Good Leader” and “Asshole”, the only instance of great lyrics on here). All of the songs are short (only two of them cross the three minute mark), so the 16 songs here barely limp across the half hour mark, and while that’s not a bad thing, it stops there being any of those great Beck lyrical epics like “Mexico” from existing.
But the second biggest problem here, to my ears, is that Beck’s folk/blues shtick works a lot better when he has a sense of humour about it, and here there’s very little sign of said sense of humour. Most of these songs sound like outtakes from his other, unreleased acoustic albums – not any more developed as songs or ideas, but lacking in what made them fun in the first place.
Said biggest problemo, a’ course, is that the songs here just aren’t that memorable. Very few of them get stuck in my head ever. This means that their electromagnetic waves are defective and should be returned immediately for a full refund towards the colloquial definitive aeros connecting facially with the toothless men that wander downtown men at three a.m. with their lives in bags and all their thoughts trapped in their heads incommunicably. Those crazies – they have to be trying to say something, right? That woman who walks around College and Spadina every night yelling about India – she IS trying to get at something inside her own head.
And uh…sorry about degressing into writing there. Okay, I take back what I said about the second “rocker” – “Ziplock Bag” is AWFUL. The album’s getting a 6 anyway though. Still lots of charming folk/blues songs with pretty good lyrics (except for the occasional absolutely terrible one like “feels so bad / to be a slab”) and interesting titles. Beck’s a smart guy, and he was trying to popularize this bizarro side of his personality. Or maybe he was sick of being young and playful and wanted to start making music that didn’t revolve around postmodern-like humour and experimental weirdness. He was never the same as his early period (up to Mellow Gold) and I respect that choice – even if I miss that sense of humour.