Colors is Beck’s thirteenth recorded studio album, and by far his absolute worst release to date.
Let me begin by saying I am one of Beck’s biggest fans.
His ’94 release Mellow Gold is the soundtrack to my life (coincidence it came out my birth year? I think not,) Sea Change got me through one of my harshest breakups, and Odelay is a damn classic, c’mon. Every album Beck has put out since his beginning in the early ’90s has released with it an individual expression; a reason for being. Beck’s albums have always flowed simultaneously betwixt meaningfulness and meaningless, much like an existentialist’s nightmare.
Colors is void of any true color of emotion, really.
To me, Beck is one of the chameleonic greats, right up there with David Bowie. Needless to say I expected nothing less than typical Beck quirky perfection with Colors. Instead I got a blanketed pop record with nothing “Beckish” about it. There are no twists, no turns, no surprises, nothing that evokes feeling from me.
Of the 10 tracks on Colors, only one screams Beck to me – “Wow”.
It has a spectral attractiveness to it, colorful sampling, eccentric lyricism and to top it all off, a heck of a dance beat. Truly ironic however, considering Beck said he never intended to release the song. It was the only song he never tried to write for the album, it just sort of happened. “Wow” sounds like it could belong on The Information or Midnight Vultures, it is swimming with the charm of other Beck hits of the past. The rest of the Colors is entirely predictable in song crafting, which is precisely the reason I hate it.
With the help from famed producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia, Foo Fighters) both he and Beck recorded nearly every instrumental on Colors themselves since they began writing together in 2013. Another reason to be ticked about this release is just how long we had to wait for it! “Dreams” came out in the summer of 2015 for crying out loud…
The opening and self-titled track is one of the better songs, with punchy dexterity – yet lingers in the same emptiness that looms over all of Colors.
I was willing to overlook the vapidity of the lyricism on Colors in exchange for a great record, but because most of the music here sucks, I couldn’t help but notice the terribly dull lyrics even more. Take for example one of the singles, “Up All Night”:
“Hands up in the air
If you don’t really care
Living don’t get you there
If you got the climb to take it up there”
I do care, Beck.
“I’m So Free” starts out strong enough, only to then completely derail once Beck begins rapping miserably. Anyone else think of J-Roc of Trailer Park Boys here? Know what I’m sayin’?
Without a doubt the worst track is “Fix Me”, Color’s closing track. Behind lackluster beats and overly cliche “oh, oh’s” lies a boring-ass song. Beck attempts to show his sensitive, vulnerable side here, but it sounds entirely bogus in the process.
Colors has glossy production, shimmery piano pieces, multiple guitars, sound collages and danceability throughout.
Colors is a good pop record. So why do I hate it so much? Because it’s not a Beck album.
I have come to expect the unexpected with his releases, to have my ears tingling with anticipation of what sounds the next track might introduce. With Colors, none of that happens. Even with “Dreams,” a relatively cool track, it loses its credibility for lasting five minutes, two minutes too long for a song with no change of direction.
That awkwardly awarded Grammy win of 2015 got to Beck’s head. Colors is stereopathetic soulmanure.
Full track listing:
- Seventh Heaven
- I’m So Free
- Dear Life
- No Distraction
- Up All Night
- Square One
- Fix Me
Rating: 4/10 – If this were any newer artist, I would say, “hey, this is an okay produced pop record, cool deal.” But it’s not, it’s Beck – and we have learned to expect much, MUCH more from him.