Beck's debut, Mellow Gold, was a glorious sampler of different musical styles, careening from lo-fi hip-hop to folk, moving back through garage rock and arty noise. It was an impressive album, but the parts didn't necessarily stick together. The two albums that followed within months of Mellow Gold -- Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave -- were specialist releases that disproved the idea that Beck was simply a one-hit wonder. But Odelay, the much-delayed proper follow-up to Mellow Gold, proves the depth and scope of his talents. Odelay fuses the disparate strands of Beck's music -- folk, country, hip-hop, rock & roll, blues, jazz, easy listening, rap, pop -- into one dense sonic collage. Songs frequently morph from one genre to another, seemingly unrelated genre -- bursts of noise give way to country songs with hip-hop beats, easy listening melodies transform into a weird fusion of pop, jazz, and cinematic strings; it's genre-defying music that refuses to see boundaries.
All of the songs on Odelay are rooted in simple forms -- whether it's blues ("Devil's Haircut"), country ("Lord Only Knows," "Sissyneck"), soul ("Hotwax"), folk ("Ramshackle"), or rap ("High 5 [Rock the Catskills]," "Where It's At") -- but they twist the conventions of the genre. "Where It's At" is peppered with soul, jazz, funk, and rap references, while "Novacane" slams from indie rock to funk and back to white noise. With the aid of the Dust Brothers, Beck has created a dense, endlessly intriguing album overflowing with ideas. Furthermore, it's an album that completely ignores the static, nihilistic trends of the American alternative/independent underground, creating a fluid, creative, and startlingly original work.
1. Devil's Haircut
3. Lord Only Knows
4. The New Pollution
8. Where It's At
12. High 5 (Rock The Catskills)
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Beck - Where It's At
Beck - Devils Haircut