Review: ‘Colors’ by Beck

Much like the chocolate boxes of Forrest Gump, you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to Beck (unlike chocolate boxes in real life, which are clearly labeled). He’s a tough artist to pin down: a rapper, an Americana singer, a low-key alternative rocker. Beck doesn’t so much think outside the box as he just lives outside it, and it’s made his career an exciting one to follow. Beck’s previous album, Morning Phase, found harmony between understated acoustic guitar plucks and the uneasy ambiance of soaring strings. All in all, the 2014 album stood out as one of Beck’s finest achievements, which created an ineludible disadvantage for this year’s follow-up Colors.

In contrast to Morning Phase, Colors is exuberant and rejuvenative. Consider Beck’s career at the time—2008’s Modern Guilt officially fulfilled Beck’s record contract with Interscope Records, and he would remain without a record label for nearly seven years. Morning Phase, released under Capitol Records, was Beck’s triumphant return to the music scene, and the large-scale success of the album (including a Grammy win for Album of the Year) kickstarted a second phase of Beck’s career.

“There was a very strong positive feeling that was happening while we were making [Colors], this renewed appreciation and affection for playing music,” Beck told NME earlier this month. And renewed he sounds, with sprightly warmth and buoyant spirit nestled in his vocal chords, a far cry from the unflappable slacker messiah of the ‘90s. Colors is, first and foremost, a splashy dance rock record, something Beck has never really done before. But unlike most of his albums, what’s fresh for Beck isn’t necessarily fresh overall; Colors is catchy and glossy, but it gets by far more on Beck’s talents as a performer than a songwriter.

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Top 20 Singles of 2014

These aren’t necessarily my favorite songs of 2014. They’re my favorite singles. There’s a difference; you can look it up. Don’t argue with me.

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Top 20 Albums of 2014

I’m not going to claim to be someone who deeply understands music at its roots. I don’t play an instrument, and I know nothing of theory, but I love all different genres of music and I know how to talk about things I love, so this is just a natural progression of that. I managed to listen to eighty-five new albums from 2014, and now that the year is over, I want to reflect on the twenty that stuck out to me the most. Here are my twenty favorite albums of 2014.

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