Beck – The Information

Within minutes of buying The Information, Beck’s latest album, I found myself sitting on the grass in an inner-city park designing my own album artwork. The Information, you see, comes with a sheet of stickers so you can decorate its otherwise plain cover yourself. As I placed the final couple of stickers on the inlay, it dawned on me: this is pretty much a reflection of every album Beck has ever made, The Information being no exception.

Since Loser hit it big in the early 1990s, we’ve become accustomed to Beck providing us with collections of random ideas that you can piece together to make just about anything. With the exception of 2002’s Sea Change, Beck has combined the best bits of pop, rock, indie, grunge, country, latin, hip-hop and electronic, to make his own sound (in case you’re interested, put The Information in your CD drive and see what ‘genre’ iTunes assigns it).

But inventing your own sound has its downsides. With albums like Mellow Gold, Odelay and Midnite Vultures in his back catalogue, you can’t help but expect Beck to continue making music as original as ever.

While last year’s Guero sounded a little too much like Odelay, The Information branches out more with a much more synthetic feel. Cellphone’s Dead and We Dance Alone pick up where Guero’s Hell Yes left off, blending Beck’s electronic inklings with his relatively recent venture into the world of hip-hop.

The more organic moments on The Information are far from original and reference Beck’s previous work unapologetically. Think I’m in Love is a sunny ode to The New Pollution and Girl, while lead-off single Nausea is almost a reprise of Black Tambourine. Hell, Motorcade might as well be Devil’s Haircut’s evil cousin.

But this isn’t Beck falling back on the tried-and-tested formula. Anyone who owns a back album knows he’d rather top himself than release a cheap imitation of his earlier work. While it may seem that way at first listen, The Information borrows bits and pieces from Beck’s earlier material to mess with your mind. Just like every other Beck release, the ingredients are all there andíƒâ€ší¢€” it’s up to you to put them back together in whatever way you like.