Midnite Vultures


Geffen Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Shane M. Liebler


Beck will never need to return to form.

Return to earth. Return a favor. Turn a trick, maybe. But as a multi-instrumentalist and multimedia artist, I’m not sure there’s any homogenous home base for Beck to come back to.

The world was ready for Odelay II in 1998. We got a folky non-follow up in Mutations. Enlightened ears braced again for a sequel in 1999, and we got the soft glow of electric sex from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Midnite Vultures.

In subsequent LPs, we were surprised again and again until we stopped waiting. I can say with confidence I’ve never been disappointed.

With Midnite Vultures, Beck shrugged off the Odelay shackles -- with a dip, drop-step and superlicious slide. This is where Beck the artist tests the weird waters, drowns in sound, solidifies his showmanship and draws a line in the sand.

The first half of the record sticks to the Beck we kinda sorta know: A folky with a penchant for hip-hop and Jordache jeans. Part two reveals a solid salute to rock and roll, peaches and cream. The horns featured in album opener “Sexx Laws” suggest Papa’s got a brand new bag, while the hilarious and scintillating “Debra” cap the soft, at times sassy, back nine.

Beck channels Bowie, bling and Prince with equal fervor throughout the Midnite experience which peaks appropriately with “Milk & Honey,” a nugget he proudly proclaimed as his “Bob Seger song” at a summer 2002 appearance in suburban Detroit. Like the rest of the album, it’s a song that has it all; from cascading guitar choruses to robotic reverb to the occasional record scratch.

The country-western/Beach Boys amalgam “Beautiful Way” that follows breaks up a relationship and brings the lights down. And all the while, the Dylanesque images of nicotine and gravy and making garbage men scream hold it all together.

It’s definitely not Odelay. It’s certainly Beck, whatever he/it is. Whatever Midnite was meant to be, it is. A party? A headphone experiment? A return to form? Futuristic nostalgia rock?

Sure. Anything but a return to form. Midnite Vultures taught us how to spark love with a stick of gum. Mix business with leather. Impossible? You can do it. Midnite Vultures can help.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Shane M. Liebler and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.