Well, I’ll be jiggered! Beck had another good album in him! Not that he necessarily never will again, but it’s charming, I tell you, charming to see an artist do the usual “artist hit 35 or so and starts the inevitable decline” thing and take a leap back from the edge of irrelevance.
This is a long, sprawling album with lots of rapid-fire sequiturs and oddball songs with lots of choppy instruments. It’s far from amusing, and the general subject matter of modern life and technology being sort of disorienting is far from original, but it’s never done in an annoying way. The worst songs (here’s lookin’ at you, “We Dance Alone” and “Cellphone’s Dead”) veer a bit too far towards the last album’s white-boy rap nonsense, but they’re way in the minority. Plus, they fail for trying to do something and not quite making it there, not for sounding like little effort was put into their creation. There’s some bloat, as happens on most long albums, but I’ll take a few extra weird songs (piano-led “Strange Apparitions,” sad, sleepy “New Round,” wheezing keyboarder “Movie Theme”) over not taking they asses every day. He stays on topic in an abstract way (almost always a good idea!), and isn’t afraid to mix things up. Why, the album’s best song is the catchy, Kinks-y shy guy love song “I Think I’m In Love.” Souljacker-ish “Nausea” suits plenty o’ moods quite well too, and it’s also super catchy! Nothing soulbreaking, but there’s plenty here for all to enjoy!
Did you know: when you cross to the North side of Steeles you enjoy the world map, and the stirring overworld music begins to play! But cross again and you enter the town of Toronto, with its one sword shop and cafe that serves milk. But don’t go into PATH unless you want to fight dragons.