Mellow Gold


DGC Records, 1994

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It has been a tough few days here at "The Daily Vault."On Wednesday, I forgot to build the hyperlink on the home page for that day's review. Yesterday, I slipped and forgot to change the date on the Body Count review.

And now, to top it off, I choose an album that defies a typical review - Beck's Mellow Gold. Whatever was I smoking this week?

Beck Hansen rose to fame with the surprise hit of 1994, the slacker anthem "Loser." Through what sounds like non sequitur ramblings passing for vocals and a hypnotic chorus, Beck captured the attention of the alternative world and set it on its ear. The release of Mellow Gold was one of the most anticipated of the year.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And when I first listened to this album three years ago, I was disillusioned. There was little I heard to demonstrate that "Loser" was not a one-off fluke hit. So, away went the tape into the Pierce Memorial Archives (sorry, no vacancy) and was forgotten.

Ah, but the recent resurgence of Beck and his critical success, including two Grammies, caused me to give this album a second look. What Mellow Gold proved to me is that it is not a one-listen album. Instead, you need to listen to it several times - and even that doesn't guarantee you'll capture all the nuances.

I guess you could classify Beck as acoustic industrial. Sound crazy? One listen to the track "F___in' With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock)" will confirm this.

Beck relies - and often overuses - vocal masks. The heavy distortion often leavs the vocal unintelligible, though at times it proves to be an interesting effect. "Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997" and "Motherf__ker" (not my censorship) are prime examples of how Beck uses technology to his favor. And while it stretches a bit long, "Steal My Body Home" is a solid track, as is "Blackhole."

The rest of Mellow Gold often dives into the beatbox weirdness that is Beck's trademark. "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)" was not the best choice of tracks to follow up "Loser" - the songs are polar opposites of each other style-wise. "Nitemare Hippy Girl" doesn't develop the way other songs on the album did, while "Soul Suckin' Jerk" falls just short of the mark, though it does have its moments.

And this is the problem with Mellow Gold - it tends to be a mood ring of an album. What I may think is crap today I may find irreststable in a month or so. Each time one listens to the album, their likes and dislikes shift a bit. I used to like "Loser," for example. Now, I can live without it (though I appreciate it for its past).

I do think that Mellow Gold is worth listening to and experiencing, though I can't say if the album is for everybody. If you keep an open mind while listening to this one, you will probably be in for a decent trip. And it does serve as a pointer to the direction Beck's music has travelled to this point.

Rating: B-

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen 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 DGC Records, and is used for informational purposes only.