With a career spanning over 25 years, American-singer-songwriter Beck Hansen—professionally known as Beck—has been pushing the envelope musically for decades. His newest, most vibrant, unwaveringly upbeat album Colors was released on Oct. 13 and follows his typical out of left-field sound, but goes brighter, achieving the most pop sound Beck has ever played.
Beck—who was nearly interrupted by Kanye West while accepting his award for Album of the Year in 2015—beat out Beyoncé and Sam Smith with his album Morning Phase. His newest project Colors has been long awaited ever since.
The first single “Dreams,” which is the final, yet catchiest track of the album, was released in 2015. Reminiscent of disco, Beck’s vocals in “Dreams” appear to bounce like light catching on the mirrored surface of a rotating disco ball. “Dreams” ends the album with a bang, its beguiling beats play on repeatedly in the listener’s ears long after the last note ends.
The 2016 single “Wow” pulls inspiration from the likes of David Bowie, Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper, showcasing an eccentric blend of electronica and rap. The song strikes a similar feeling of jubilance, as does the rest of the album. Beck’s lyrical flair and rapping abilities are also underscored with crafty lines like “Standing on your lawn doin’ jiu jitsu/ Girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini Shih Tzu.”
Beck’s mainstream pop sound throughout Colors is stark in comparison to his older and grungier hits such as “Loser” or “Where It’s At.” The buoyancy and vigor of Colors is apparent, not just to listeners, but to Beck himself.
“The best songs make you glad to be alive,” Beck said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Beethoven or the Monkees. That’s what I was thinking about a lot,” The Rolling Stone reports.
There is some speculation as to the appeal of Colors and the ways in which it caters to current pop music. While this new sound for Beck could be a response to Kanye West and everyone who didn’t know he was when he won Album of the Year. This could also be Beck’s attempt at expressing an unseen, sanguine side of his musicality. Beck has moved past the sound procured in Morning Phase, which is more mellow and self-examining. Colors is a bright, lively album enjoyed ideally by belting the lyrics out of an open car window on a sunny day.
Other noteworthy songs include the title track “Colors,” which appropriately begins and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Beck credits the Beatles as inspiration for the song “Dear Life,” the darkest track, which opens with just a piano playing. “Fix Me” nods to Morning Phase with its quiet, calm call. The idea of freedom is ever-present, not just throughout the album, but when Beck sings “I don’t mind/ if the sea washes over the city tonight/ Tonight, I’m set free.”
To listeners, the shift from producing songs with a wide range stylistically to the more uplifting pop tracks featured on Colors is obvious. Overall, the quality of the tracks that make up Colors is a true testament to how diverse and innovative Beck is as an artist.u