Bong Load / DGC Records, 1996
REVIEW BY: Cory Galliher
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/23/2006
You might like him, you might loathe him, but it's impossible to ignore Beck. If you've ever touched a radio in the past decade, you're bound to have heard one of his variety of catchy singles; you're also bound to have not understood a word the man was saying, but chances are you found yourself humming along after the fact regardless.This is part of Beck's charm -- he's able to string together his own thoughts, coherence be damned, and still produce good music. And this is no more evident than his 1996 masterpiece Odelay.
If you've got any interest in alternative rock at all, it's hard not to love Beck's mixture of simultaneously nonsensical and deep lyrics, thumping beats, guitar work and sampling. It doesn't help that all the songs are so damn catchy.
The highlights are the singles: "Devil's Haircut," "The New Pollution" and "Where It's At," and if you've not heard these you are really missing out. "Devil's Haircut" has a perky, optimistic beat that's enhanced, rather than depreciated, by the contrast of Beck's unenthusiastic mumbling; the man has said it is one of his favorite songs and occasionally sings it twice at concerts. "The New Pollution" has a pumping, forceful rhythm that gives the track a hip-hop feel, and "Where It's At" could be considered the alternative rock movement's most influential party track, thanks to its unique use of sampling and a defining keyboard riff.
Unlike most modern albums, however, Odelay doesn't become worthless once the singles start to get old. It's a musical tour-de-force; there isn't a track to be found on here that's not worthy of a few rotations in your CD player. "Hotwax" and "Lord Only Knows," for example, are influenced by country music yet still have a powerful urban flavor. "High 5 (Rock The Catskills)," on the other hand, is pure hip-hop all the way. This sort of genre experimentation results in a unique blend of an album with a flavor that's difficult to find anywhere else; how many artists will blend country, rap, jazz, rock, pop and strings into one album and make it all sound so good?
Producers The Dust Brothers help Beck considerably here, making a disc that perfectly captures what the alternative movement is about but never confining to the genre's conventions. Odelay defines Beck as a true artist and is one of the alt-rock movement's last great albums. It's a journey well worth taking, but don't expect to understand most of it.