Album: The Information
My first step when I want to review an album is to listen to it once the whole way through without stopping. The goal of this is to get a sense of the album, and formulate an idea of how I feel about it. Sometimes this is an absolute joy (“Boys and Girls in America”, “Game Theory”) and sometimes it is a tedious chore akin to cutting the lawn with scissors and a ruler (the guilty shall remain nameless). But most often, all that happens is that the album runs from start to finish, some songs stand out and some just run together. So when I first listened to “The Information” and it fell into the third category, I wasn’t really too surprised. Since that first listen, I think I have listened to the album all the way through maybe 5 or 6 times, and it is still sitting in that third category.
If you’ve ever heard a Beck album before, you know what to expect. Most geniuses are kooks who are a few money shots short of porn, and Beck is no exception. His blending of folk guitar, beat poetry white boy rap, hip hop drums, alternative instrumentation and progressive samples has yielded some of the most original music created in the last 30 years. But being a Genius isn’t a free pass; being brilliant is no good if you cannot create something to serve mankind, and you can’t create the same thing twice. This is where “The Information” falls short.
“The Information” opens with “Elevator Music”, starting the album off with a smooth laid back beat and some of that trademark Beck white boy rap It also sets a tone that remains constant throughout the album: really cool drums. “Strange Apparition” lifts a piano melody straight out of “Sympathy for the Devil” but charms it’s way out of being a rip off. “Nausea” comes in later, with its African influenced drum and bass thump that screams out to rattle speakers. It’s followed by “New Round”; a softer piece in the same vein of “Sea Change” and serves as the crown jewel of the album.
At the end of the day, there aren’t really any bad tracks on the album. It’s more like there are only a few good ones. “New Round” and “Elevator Music” are both on par with some of his best stuff, but this is mostly an album of filler. The only songs worth mentioning from the second half of the CD are the one that’s challenging, but interesting (“1000BPM”), the one that sounds like it belongs in an 80s teen romance (“Movie Theme”), and the one that’s way to fucking long (“The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton”).
“The Information” is a Beck album, so that means that there are going to be hits and misses. But this Beck CD is the first time that it sounds like to me Beck might be running out of ideas. He’s still one of the most innovative artists in a long time, but I’m afraid he’s been sitting on his laurels for a little too long. That being said, fans will enjoy this album, especially “New Round” and “Nausea”. Just don’t listen to the album all in one sitting, about an hour later, you’ll have vaguely good feeling, but you’ll be wondering where your last hour went.
Rating: 6.5 out 10
Key Tracks: “Elevator Music”, “Nausea” “New Round” “Strange Apparition”
Worth The Money: Only because it comes with a bunch of free stuff. But casual fans should stay away.