1993 – Beck releases “Loser,” a song that could have only been a hit in the 90s and wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it became one of the many, many one-off novelty songs of that era.
1996 – Odelay is released. Beck almost flawlessly mixes his oddball sensibilities with his love of multiple genres, shaping it all with an ability to craft songs few had noticed in his earlier work.
1997 – This
1998 – Beck follows up the massively successful Odelay with the criminally overlooked Mutations. Seriously, in my totally humble but absolutely infallible opinion, Mutations is one of the most underrated albums of the 90s.
1999 – Beck introduces the world to Jack Black while also writing some of the most unnervingly sexual lyrics of all time. Just know that any sex you’ve had since 1999 would have been better if this album had been played during coitus.
2002 – Beck somehow finds a way to follow up one of the sexiest albums ever made with one of the best breakup albums ever made, Sea Change, still considered by many to be the best album of his career.
Since the release of Sea Change, things have been somewhat up and down for Beck. Guero, an album I find highly enjoyable, was well received but also had a number of people claiming Beck was simply trying to recapture the magic of Odelay. The Information was somewhat forgettable, while Modern Guilt is mostly just the same song reworked 10 times. Beck also released an “album” of sheet music, as well as writing songs for Sex Bob-Omb, which was pretty sweet.
All of which brings us to the release of Beck’s second new single this summer, “I Won’t Be Long.” Supposedly, Beck is working on two albums right now, and while “I Won’t Be Long” and his previous release “Defriended” aren’t expected to be on either album, it’s probably safe to assume that these songs are indicators of what to expect.
While “I Won’t Be Long” isn’t a great song, it is very good. Beck no longer has the market cornered when it comes to pop/rock songs built on a foundation of hip-hop basslines and drum machines, but he still offers a product better than most of his direct competitors. The rapid-fire kick drum drives the song through it’s tightest moments and into the spots where things open up to reverb-heavy instrumentation and spacey vocals.
Since Modern Guilt, it seems like Beck has gotten away from using the album as his creative outlet. Whether he was bored with the format or just needed some time away is unclear, and it’s difficult to tell exactly what impact that time away will have on his music. That being said, from the sound of “I Won’t Be Long,” and the goodwill he’s built throughout one of the most consistent careers of the past 25 years, I’ll be looking forward to it when it comes out, whatever it ends up being.
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