by Grant Foskett
[three_fourth]Beck Hansen is the chameleon of modern music. From his absurdist top 10 hit ‘Loser’ to his Grammy award winning masterpiece Morning Phase, he has always found a way to adapt and evolve his sound. Throughout his twelve genre-bending studio albums previous to Colors, Beck maintained a uniquely identifiable personality. Colors, on the other hand, lacks that subtle touch that just says “Beck!”, which in an over-saturated music market means it sounds like everything you’ve heard before.
On Colors, Beck worked with producer Greg Kurstin (Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Sia) to create an album that “was uplifting, had a lot of energy, and made you want to sing along.” They kind of succeeded. Kind of. Colors is absolutely a record with some catchy choruses and danceable instrumentals, which is far from new territory to Beck. From ‘Loser’ and ‘Devil’s Haircut’ to ‘Que’ Onda Guero,’ Hansen knows how to make you move. The difference with Colors is really the loss of all flavors. The majority of the album is made up of generic pop instrumentals and lyrics that don’t really make you think. When it does try to incorporate some “old Beck,” we end up with awkward, cringey rhymes like “jiu jitsu” and “shih tzu” that stick out like a sore thumb on otherwise radio-ready pop jams.
Colors opens with its title track, where Beck sings the chorus (“All my colors, see the colors, make the colors / Feel the colors, she says / See it in your eyes”) with about as little color as possible. As an album opener and title track, ‘Colors’ is about as uninteresting and uninspired as I could have imagined from Beck. ‘No Distraction’ is an anthem about our attention being stolen in our modern, technology-filled world. It’s a cute, but ultimately trite message backed by what feels like a copy-paste instrumental that could fit any power-pop band’s needs. Tracks like ‘I’m So Free’ stray from the cookie-cutter pop formula a bit, but still fall short of any genuine emotion or experimentation.
Not to fear, it’s not all bad. ‘Dear Life’ plays out as almost Beatles-esque soundscape where Beck surrenders himself to the ups and downs of life. It’s a slower, winding track and one of very few on Colors that inspire genuine emotion. Another high point is the very first single, ‘Dreams.’ Released all the way back in 2015, ‘Dreams’ feels like Beck’s attempt at a MGMT track, but in a good way. It’s slick, guitar and drum driven, carefree, and the album’s greatest attempt at an interesting pop track.
Colors is far from an introspective, thoughtful record, and even further from a masterpiece of musical experimentation. It’s well made, at times fun, and at times catchy, but overall, it’s hard to justify returning to Colors when there are plenty of better pop records and plenty of better Beck records to explore.