Beck “Colors” review

By Connor Evans and By Connor Evans

While the Beck you may remember from the days of “Odelay” is long gone, the many forms he has taken over the last 20 years have not come without their surprises. With “Colors,” Beck continues the trend of throwing his fans into a completely different genre while maintaining a feel that is very much synonymous with Beck. It’s an album many could have never seen coming from the artist who put out the wacky western undertones of breakout 1996 hit “Odelay,” but it is all better for it. “Colors” is a vibrant and exciting record, but still fits into a very defined yet cohesive box.

    “Colors” kicks off with the title track, and right out of the gate, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s a smooth and calculated pop banger that instantly grabs you and throws you onto the dance floor. The punchy bass groves along with layers of flute and guitar adding texture to the beat. It’s got a summertime feel to it that remains an unchanging theme throughout the entire track list of “Colors”.

    As fun and vibrant as the title track is, it also reveals one of the main problems with the record. Beck aims to make a cohesive pop album, but in doing so, many of the tracks play it safe and fit into this pop mold. Songs like “Seventh Heaven”, “Up All Night” and “No Distractions” do little to differentiate themselves from the rest of the track list, and while they still have the irrefutable ability to make you want to get up and move, they still come across as rather unmemorable.

    Beck does find his footing, however, when he goes over the top. “Dear Life” comes in like a left hook, slamming you with a moving piano grove that gets the head instantly bobbing. “Dear Life” goes through many distinct phases, from piano jam, to guitar rocker and back to groovy pop tune. It’s these breakneck changes that keep you on the edge of your seat and something only Beck is able to pull off in the manner he does.

    Other highlights of the album are stadium rockers “I’m So Free” and “Dreams.” They are more rock-focused tracks, but seamlessly blend pop influences to spice things up and keep with the feel of the record. “I’m So Free” just screams windows down on the highway, as the chorus is very easy to pick up and sing along to.

    That brings me to the lyrics on “Colors.” which is another one of my biggest gripes about the project. Beck has always been known as a fantastic songwriter, but it seems that he traded lyrical quality for production quality here. Beck seems to be more concerned with making a sing along radio-ready hit than actually saying something with meaning. Case and point is the track, “Wow,” one track that Beck even admitted he didn’t believe was very good but was convinced by his children to put it out. While Beck is definitely good for a few chuckles as he delivers a line like ‘Standing on the lawn doin’ jiu jitsu / Girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini shih tzu’ I don’t know how anybody can take him as more than satire here.

    Beck once again reinvents himself with “Colors,” but does little to reinvent the pop genre. It’s a radio-ready pop album at its core and does little to set itself apart from its contemporaries. “Colors” undeniably oozes fun out of every pore of the majority of the track list, but when it falters, it falters hard. This level of fun does enough to carry the record and would fit nicely as a windows-down summertime romp, so it’s a good thing that winter is right around the corner.

Score: 5/10