by Sam Jenkins
(you got stickers to create your own cover, this is one someone made)
Today we are going to be talking about Beck. Some of you might know Beck from his 90’s hits ‘Loser’ and ‘Where It’s At,’ or, more likely, his Grammy win last year for the record Morning Phase. You might even know his famous breakup album Sea Change. Many a person has used that record to cope with a lost love. But if you’re me (who has recently been placed in a similar emotional place), you turn to Beck’s underrated 2006 album, The Information.
The Information is a fascinating album. It perfectly blends very different styles of both chill electronic and more folksy acoustic guitar. Combine that with its creative, very Beck lyrics, and you have a truly unique record. Unique, however, does not mean memorable. Aside from the three main singles, ‘Think I’m In Love,’ ‘Nausea,’ and ‘Elevator Music,’ no one recalls it. The reason why is because it’s in an awkward everything. The album itself came out at an awkward time in music history, not to mention an awkward time in Beck’s discography, not to mention an awkward time in the year. Allow some elaboration on the second one. The Information came out in 2006, between the introspective breakup record, Sea Change, and the mellow rock album Modern Guilt. People expected something a bit different coming out of something as ethereal as Sea Change. The Information, compared to Sea Change or not, is really dense. But enough about background – how’s the album when judged on its own merit? Well…
The album itself has a futuristic edge that doesn’t really work in its favour. It gives the listener a feeling of unsettling neutrality. It’s just kind of there. The Information really does encapsulate this weird feeling that it has no particular emotional bearing. A couple of the songs appear to feel one thing or another, but there’s a strange disassociation that can’t be shaken, like the album is the world viewed from the eyes of an alien. And, lo and behold, at the end of the last song (not the extended version, mind you), there’s a monologue by someone who doesn’t appear to be human. This was his story: the world, kaleidoscoped. It leaves a strange sense of melancholy not often heard.
I’m not implying that Beck is an alien, of course, but I can’t help but think that he ran into one and this is what came of it. This might be why The Information failed. You can’t relate to it. Some people can kind of relate to it, you can understand it, but at the same time there’s that feeling it’s not quite for you. Even of the songs he was actually writing for a specific person don’t feel like they’re really for you to listen to. Because they were for that someone else. The song for his son is especially like that. This music was meant to stay private more than anything else. So in the end, I can only say that while it is an amazing album, it is an album for a very specific group of people. And while I am one of the few weirdos who listens to it and loves it, I’m sad that there aren’t more aliens like myself to enjoy it.
In conclusion, listen to it – you never know. If you don’t like it, no biggie. Its best tracks are by far ‘Elevator Music,’ ‘Think I’m in Love,’ ‘Cellphone’s Dead,’ ‘Nausea,’ and ‘No Complaints.’ Listen to them first, so even if you don’t like the record, you can hear their glory. I give the information a 6.24/7, but only a tentative recommendation. That’s a funny number? Don’t care.
Next time: Astoria.