When Becks Odelay album came out back in 1995, I was completely on it. I'd been a big fan of his ever since I heard his first single "Loser" and even wrote a paper about him for a class when I was in college. Even when all the reviews started coming out that said the album was the best of the year, I didn't shy away from it. Critics and the masses adored it equally, and even though I didn't like to admit it sometimes, I thought it was one of the best of the year as well. I started reading interviews in which he said he was going to take some time off, then he released his Mutations album, which was more of an experiment for him than anything else. Although I didn't think it was the greatest, it showed that Beck still had his songwriting skills fully intact and I waited for the follow-up proper to Odelay.
Midnite Vultures is that album, and from the very get-go I could tell that something was afoot. Sure, "Sexxlaws" is a catchy song and a pretty darn good first single, but there is simply so much crap going on in the song that I wondered what was going to happen with the rest of the album. There were horns, weird little sound effects thrown in all over the place, and treated vocals all laid down over some weird pseudo disco funk beat. It sounded a bit overproduced for my tastes, but I gave it a fair shake and decided to go ahead with the album.
By now you've probably already read in several different places that it's the party album of the year and it's another winner from Beck, but after listening to it many many times, it's just not doing anything for me. There are catchy moments and lyrics that crack me up every time, but there just doesn't seem to be any substance that sticks inside my head like there were with Odelay.
To tell the truth, Midnite Vultues kind of sounds like an album Prince would have made if he were more interested in being a geek than carressing his own ego. There are weird little drum machine beats going everywhere, and Beck sings in falsetto more times than I can even count (and definitely more times than necessary). Other than "Out Of Kontrol" and "Beautiful Way," every song feels like it's been chocked to the hilt full of sound, simply because it was something that could be done. Another thing is that on almost every track, Becks vocals have been affected in some way or another. Now granted, his voice hasn't really been known for it's soothing qualities, but the neverending stream of gadgetry and filters just wears on me after awhile. In the end, what it comes down to is that although there are some interesting tracks and fun listens, everything is done in excess so much that it grating on my nerves (perhaps that's the point). Beck is still a geek and I admire him for that, but I just can't swallow the schtick on this one. Maybe I'm just a cynical bastard, though.