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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beck -- The Information


If Beck's Midnite Vultures is the party before the apocalypse, his highly underrated The Information is the party after. However, while Beck's lyrics were the sore spot on the former, they are the most intriguing element of the latter.

Nausea Lyrics:
i’m a sea sick sailor
on a ship of noise
i got my maps all backwards
and my instincts poisoned
in a truth blown gutter
full of wasted years
like blown out speakers
ringing in my ears

its nausea, oh nausea
and we’re gone

i’m a straight line walker
in a black out room
i push a shopping cart over
in an aztec ruin
with my minion fingers
working for some god
who could see his own reflection
in a parking lot

its nausea, oh nausea
and we’re gone

like a priest teenager
on a tower of dust
i’m a dead generator
in a cloud of exhaust
i eat alone in the desert
with skulls for my pets
i rate the days 1 to 10
with lead cigarettes

oh its nausea, nausea
and we’re gone

The overall feeling is disappointment with a life lived on a wasted Earth. The word "desert" pops up on almost every track of The Information, usually in reference to what has become of civilization. Beck himself said "The Information" refers to the current information overload of the Internet, Facebook, Mylife, etc, and that theme is easily noticeable: misused technology alienates us from each other on a planet we've destroyed. If this sounds bleak, The Information also houses some of Beck's most comforting songs, like the acoustic/futuristic/electronic lubllaby, "New Round." "There’s no escape hatch/no submarine/that could take you to the moon/rake you in the leaves/and keep you just as safe/as you are in my hands/that someday, someday will say goodbye..." Sorry about the sound quality on this video, but it's too awesome not to link to:

So I've mentioned the dystopic lyrics, but not the music. The thing is, with The Information, the two are almost interchangeable. Beck raps more than he's done in quite a while, as if this is the only way he can get out all he wants to say in a reasonable time. He can still rap without sounding stupid, and his singing voice sounds better than ever. The music follows the usual patterns of unpredictably often featured on a Beck album. There are plenty of acoustic sounds, big beats, real drums, eerie, random voices, strings, scary electronic noises and samples. The Information also features more big bass grooves than any Beck album I can recall. This all flows together to create the sound of a party attended by ghosts on an old, empty dance floor, windows open to a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It really is quite haunting, beautiful, and above all, fun.
I have talked this album up a lot, but it has a flaw. The inundation of information also reflects the inundation of music. There are too many songs, and a couple of the weaker tracks ("No Complaints," "1000 Bpm") should have been cut to take the running time under an hour. I guess this could easily be remedied by skipping them, though I hesitate to recommend skipping anything. Regardless of The Information's bloated length, there is an underrated masterpiece within, well worth your time.

ANOTHER BECK NOTE: I think I really undervalued my appreciation of Beck before starting on these reviews. I really, really enjoyed listening to these four albums. I think I am going to go back and purchase all the ones I skipped out on, or at least Guero and Mutations.

2006 Interscope
1. Elevator Music 3:38
2. Think I'm in Love 3:19
3. Cellphone's Dead 4:45
4. Strange Apparition 3:48
5. Soldier Jane 3:58
6. Nausea 2:55
7. New Round 3:25
8. Dark Star 3:45
9. We Dance Alone 3:56
10. No Complaints 3:00
11. 1000BPM 2:29
12. Motorcade 4:15
13. The Information 3:45
14. Movie Theme 3:53
15. The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton 10:36

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