Musical artists that have been in the pop machine for two decades risk running out of things to say. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Beck. His new record Colors has so much going on that he could have titled it Technicolor. It leads off with the title track – a positive, light, playful and totally colourful blend of sparkles and synths and beats. He sings “All my colors, see the colors, make the colors, feel the colors. Tell me, do you feel alive?”
This record marks Beck’s 13th studio album and possibly 44th single. He co-produced this record with Greg Kurstin in LA, with Greg and Beck playing nearly every instrument themselves. This alone, as you will hear on the record, is a jaw-dropping achievement worthy of a tip of the purple fedora from Prince himself.
Imagine that Bruno Mars, Sufjan Stevens, The Shins, Weezer, Blur, The Beatles, MGMT and Childish Gambino come together to make a record. Now, try to find a cohesive throughline for that record. Colors has the flavor of all these artists and more. It is a quirky, folky, rhythmic, funky and sometimes cheeky mish-mash of musical genres that in the hands of another artist would sit like a cake that has too many ingredients: dense, messy and indigestible. Yet, Beck masterfully manages to find simplicity in unlikely complex structures and deliver a delicious, extravagant and fun feast. The individual tracks on this record are quite different from each other, but the album as a whole plays like a great mix tape, with every song different yet complementary.
Where the trend has been to simplify pop structure, arrangements and minimal instrumentation, Beck has gone completely in the other direction. There are so many ideas, instruments, sounds and effects presented on each song on Colors that it’s hard to imagine the listener has something to grasp onto. Yet, remarkably, the songs scan well both individually and as an album. This likely took an incredible amount of time, skill and love.
It’s expected that artists in the pop arena come and go. Very few have longevity like Beck. The lyrics are not spectacular, but the ideas portrayed in the record are brilliant. Beck is able to balance Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z styles and ideals while feeling genuine and original. Thematically, Colors is uplifting, vibrant and positively fun. My favourite track “Fix Me” is tender and melodic. It likely won’t be a single, but in my heart it’s a hit. The record has no shortage of singles for Indie radio stations and maybe top pop 40 stations. With tracks like “Colors”, “WOW”, “Up All Night” and “Dreams” this album likely will ride its way into the Grammys.
Colors is not an album for passive listening. It requires your presence. I suggest you listen with a good pair of headphones, enjoy the broad sonic palette and how Beck masterfully makes complexity feel simple, hooky and comfortably familiar. Colors is a record that will put a skip in your step and a smile in your heart.
Rishi Deva is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.