By: Eric G.
Beck has abandoned all sincerity for Midnite Vultures, but that hardly matters given that this might be his best record yet. Odelay overexposed Beck. It wasn’t his fault, though. He got way too many amazing reviews for any ego to remain grounded. It took the public a while to catch up with all the hype, and by the time it did he was everywhere. Mutations was the perfect follow up. He avoided the path that Odelay laid out for him with an album full of introspection and subtlety. Midnite Vultures, however, is the result of what would have happened had he taken the obvious and easy road right away.
Beck is a player on Midnite Vultures. He’s out to entertain the ladies. His super-charged sexed out ego rivals Dirty Mind-era Prince in all its glory. With songs like “Sexx Laws”, “Milk & Honey”, “Peaches & Cream”, and “Pressure Zone”, this guy is on the prowl. Beck is the ultimate purveyor of junk rock. He melds and meshes so many styles and keeps his songs so busy that it takes several listens just to digest it all properly. Midnite Vultures sounds like a retro-futuristic new wave funk soul hip-hop collage of beats and rhymes.
Beck’s singing voice has developed into an impressive instrument. His falsetto is a lady-killer, and he drops hints at his new secret weapon in several songs throughout the record, but he doesn’t fully unleash it until the final track. “Debra” might be the best song of his career. It sounds like a genuine Jackson Five hit, but the lyrics are dripping with Beck’s tongue and cheek humor. He hits unfathomably high notes and even dances around in the upper register like an old soul pro. The lyrics are amazingly funny: “I met you at JC Penny/I think your nametag said ‘Jenny’/I cold stepped to you with a fresh pack of gum/and somehow I knew you were looking for some.”
Midnite Vultures makes no apologies for its bravado. Beck is playing up the image of what would happen to an artist after having a Grammy award-winning album. It works on several levels. He’s made one of the year’s best records, and it blows away Odelay for sheer audacity and innovation. The Beck on Midnite Vultures is the character Beck Hansen feels like playing for a while. He’s proven himself a brilliant songwriter on Mutations, so he can afford to be a cheesy womanizer when the records are as good as this.