Beck – Hyperspace

Beck breaks back into the scene with Hyperspace, an album that you very much want to like, but alas, your gut speaks the truth. Taking Beck’s many talents into account, this is not a good release. I literally will never hear these songs again. Not out of protest or spite, mind you, but because this album doesn’t have the will to seek the listener out. It’s a complete afterthought that melts into everything you’ve ever heard. Most of these songs fall under the dreaded “Cruise Ship Rock” category. It’s the best thing ever if you’re three margs deep in the Bahamas and every other song is by Pitbull, but if you’re listening to Hyperspace in an everyday setting, chances are you won’t take to it.

There’s not a whole lot that is catchy in this album. It’s either run-of-the-mill alt-pop or predictable dreamscape instrumentals that would be more respectable coming out of a bedroom. Hyperspace has an alluring beginning that teases you into this crappy middle portion of the album, with the ending offering a few decent tracks that don’t make up for the rest. It’s a classic too-little-too-late paradox. A cheap scheme that wants you to think, “Well, that wasn’t all that bad.” But it is. Especially for someone who once broke into the mainstream with fireworks on his back.

This album offers nothing lyrically, almost amazingly so. With a proper album’s worth of material, you’d think that there would be at least a few decent hooks, but each verse is so played out and safe that the lyrics are even draining at times. The title track, which serves as the encapsulation of the wider release, is unequivocally annoying; an irony that speaks volumes for Hyperspace. The only thing this album has going for it would be the production. Beck is a near-genius when it comes to mixing and mastering. Everything sounds so good that it almost fools you into thinking the material is good. The listener feels bamboozled this way. It would seem Beck has fallen so far into the industry that he’s lost his sense of direction. He’s become exactly what he hated in his anti-folk days: a Pop Star.

Deep down, Beck is still the cynical rapscallion we know him to be. When I caught his set at Shaky Knees this past summer, I left the show a bigger fan than before. But, naturally, he’s aged. Somewhere along the line he might have felt a growing disconnect from the generation that is listening. So he tried to overcompensate by making music with no real depth or emotional investment. I would even say that about the Grammy-winning Morning Phase. That’s where it all started, in my opinion. No doubt Beck is still a great artist, and he’s probably gonna make a ton of money off this baby, but does that mean it’s good? Or is it just appeasement? I think it would serve Beck well to make his money on the production side of things. He has a great ear, and people from all sides of the musical spectrum would kill to work with him, but to go on like this seems like mockery to a once-untainted craft.