Guest Blogger: Eric Laine

I just don't hear what the raving ciritcs & fans hear in the new Beck album, "The Information." OK, I'll say this: it is truly a capital-A Album, almost what was once called a "concept album." Except that while the songs flow naturally into one another, there's no clear concept at work here, except perhaps ecclecticism itself. No--strike that. This album, unlike many of Beck's albums, is not all that ecclectic. There's no left-turn into Brazillian jazz, deep-soul lounging, or intense electronic anthem. The songs all sound like a puree of mid-period Beck licks, complete with mumbly vocals, acoustic guitars, samples & loops.

True, the songs work together very well. Musical themes work their way through the album. It all fits together. But this strength is also its weakness: no single song on the album stands out. There is no beat or melody or style that we haven't heard from him before. The album as a whole is an enjoyable listen, but it's kinda like San Jose: there's no "there" there. You can't understand what he's talking about even when you can pick real words out of the the mush-mouth delivery.

And whatup with the sprawling Scientology-inspired spoken word astro-glide that closes the album? Seriously, whatup with that? It sounds like something Gene & I made in the basement when we were 15. Dude is taking himself WAY too seriously.

I dig "No Complaints" probably because it's the most straightforward pop song on the record. But it's a Pluto in a Beck solar system that includes Jupiters like "New Pollution," "Beercan," "Debra," "Nicotine & Gravy," "Nobody's Fault," not to mention the not-his-fault-they're-overplayed classics "Loser" & "Where It's At." What's noteworthy about "The Information" is that Beck has created a great album out of (by his stellar standards) truly mediocre songs.

Eric Laine

(Eric told me he wanted to respond to this review by a friend


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