Review #424: Odelay, Beck

Karla Clifton
2 min readAug 3, 2023

#424: Odelay, Beck

It makes sense to me, to learn that this album evolved out of some acousticky sessions to a Dust Brothers production. What doesn’t make sense to me is Beck.

There’s a lot to love about Beck. He sounds a little bit like Bob Dylan being tortured by a robot. He’s gesturing at industrial metal (“Derelict,” “Readymade”) though mostly veering into industrial grunge (bass-heavy “Minus,” beat-heavy “Where It’s At,” distorted-lounge-rock “Novacane” [sic]). Other times, he sings a straight folk song that he undercuts with a funny name — I certainly wasn’t expecting “Sissyneck” to be beautiful. See also “Hotwax,” “Jack-Ass,” and the dirge “Ramshackle.”

Something interesting: my tragically musically underinformed boyfriend (sorry, but it’s true) knows and loves Beck. This impressed me even though he told me that it was only because of Futurama. It both means that he knows more than I thought he did, and that Beck is indier than I thought he was. I should have known by the music videos, where Beck mostly stands there and looks lanky and like Michael Cera. See “Devil’s Haircut,” “The New Pollution.” Also by the random title of this album, which is clever but not that clever — it comes from “Lord Only Knows,” which means nothing but resembles the Spanish word Órale.

I kind of thought Beck might be a little funnier? But I guess he isn’t as much of a loser as he is a snob. RS quotes Beck as saying, “A lot of what my generation is into, what it represents, I’m totally against.” Um, okay. Even his liner notes are annoying — check Dave Eggers & Thurston Moore in the credits to the 2008 rerelease.

So why don’t I love Beck? I guess, if he really is so “totally against” his generation, why does he sound so much like his generational peers Trent Reznor and Thom Yorke? I guess all those Nineties guys were so bent on individuality, they didn’t realize they all sounded alike. Maybe I’m having a crisis of grunge faith.

Fun Fact: This album makes every situation feel very weird. During “High 5 (Rock The Catskills)” I was considering something very seriously when the beeping noises came on. At the end of my run this morning “Computer Rock” came on, and the revving noises freaked me out so much that I ran my best pace in weeks.

Review #423: I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, Yo La Tengo

Review #425: Paul Simon, Paul Simon