Sunday, September 09, 2007

Odelay (1996)

Beck first came to the attention of the world at large with the inescapable hit "Loser" in 1994, arguably enough anthem for a generation particularly coming as it did just when Kurt Cobain had retired from everything. Yet, as auspicious as it was, the promise of "Loser" was not delivered on until this album more than two years later. (Most people would probably agree that the erraticism would become a hallmark of his career, even if they wouldn't agree on what's an up and what a down.) Teaming with L.A. producers the Dust Brothers, Beck & co. mix up a rich stew of lo-fi recordings, samples, found sound, skronk, squawk, hard drumming and fine guitar both electric and acoustic, all underpinned by confident songwriting and some pretty good jokes. The same things that made "Loser" so great, in short. For a long time, except for "Jack-Ass," I thought this was basically overrated – it was everybody's #1 with a bullet at the time. But the years have been surprisingly kind to it for me and now, 11 years on, it sounds better every time I play it.

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