By: Eric G.
I’m so sick of reading that this isn’t the “real” follow up to Beck’s critically lauded Odelay album. Is this a new album? Is it by Beck? Did it come out after Odelay? Then it is a follow up, regardless of how the label couches its intentions. Mutations was supposed to come out on Bong Load records proper because of a deal Beck signed, which allowed him to release uncommercial material on Bong Load, but DGC was hungry to get out new Beck merchandise, hoping to turn his critics-darling status into some cash.
Similar to his one off album on K Records in 1994, One Foot In The Grave, Mutations is acoustic-based and slightly country-tinged, but that’s not very surprising because if you take away all the samples and sound effects from his other work it’s pretty much just folk music anyway. These songs are simple and straightforward, musically, but Beck’s insane word associations keep things twisted: “The puritans stare their souls are fluorescent/the skin of a robot vibrates with pleasure/matrons and gigolos carouse in the parlour/their hand grenade eyes invalid and blind” (“Lazy Flies”). Beck reels off these lines like they make perfect sense to him, and every once in a while he’ll hit you with something dead on: “Who would ever notice you/you fade into a shaded room/it’s such a selfish way to lose/the way you lose these wasted blues” (“Nobody’s Fault But My Own”).
Since Odelay was so universally adored some sort of backlash is almost inevitable, but I can’t imagine anyone losing faith in Beck because of Mutations. Beck has already proven that he isn’t a one trick pony, overcoming the flash in the pan success of his first single, “Loser”, and this album, while not the trash culture pastiche that Odelay was, still pushes him forward.