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music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Odelay

Artist: Beck
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: June 1996
Note(s): This album won a 1997 Grammy for best alternative music performance and was nominated for album of the year. "Where It's At" won the Grammy for best male rock vocal performance.

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

Beck Hansen is one of the few musical geniuses of our time. He's achieved success by being able to make great, quirky dance songs but he's comfortable in many musical styles, such as the country and folk rock of his surprisingly strong and coherent last cd, Mutations. Beck always wants to challenge himself and his audience, to the point where his short attention span and desire to always add more to the song can overwhelm the listener. His debut, Mellow Gold clearly showed Beck's brilliance but the samples and diversions could be a little much. Odelay shows Beck at his best, staying fairly focused on making interesting and very appealing dance music. Where It's At is an excellent dance song with a lot of great touches, like when his filtered voice segues into a computer voice singing,"got two turntables and a microphone." He adds good texture with jazzy horns and shifts mood and tempo but everything fits together and the beat keeps moving. The New Pollution, which Beck does live as a James Brown-style revue, is irresistably fast and straight forward dance music. Devil's Haircut is also excellent dance music with a 70s groove of fuzz guitar and a huge clean drum sound. Jack Ass foreshadowed Mutations and is actually better than anything on that slightly flat record. He removes the big beat and replaces it with light percussion and keyboards as Beck sings a elegant psychedelic ballad about "a strange invitation." Mutations is also brought to mind by Ramshackle, the goofy country blues of Lord Only Knows and the countryish dance rock of Sissyneck. Odelay also has more obscure vocal and beat experiments like Derelict, Novacane and High 5 but generally Odelay is accessible. It is the best example of the skills of an inventive performer who's likely to be making interesting records well into the next century.

Here's what others reviewers have to say:

"...A more ambitious individual probably couldn't have made an album as relaxed, funky, stylish and left-of-center as ODELAY....the album...mooches attractively between country, folk and hip-hop..." 4 Stars (out of 5) Q Magazine 8/96, p.111

"...[Beck] plunges into the deep foreboding lake of received musical wisdom....All around is madness. Beck takes the thinking man's solution and makes music to make sense of it all. Or nonsense, even....Genius means never having to think too hard..." 8 (out of 10) New Musical Express 6/22/96, p.54



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