Beck – “Hyperspace” Album Review
Rock and pop veteran Beck released another album which is sure to add onto his impressive track record of successful albums. The California-based singer-songwriter released his fourteenth studio album “Hyperspace,” which blends rock, electronic, and hip-hop sounds in a compelling yet flat album.
What is most impressive about Beck above all else is his longevity. Ever since Beck shot onto the scene with 1994’s “Mellow Gold,” a low-fi alternative rock album with self deprecating themes that has since gone double platinum, the singer has not left the spotlight.
Two decades after the release of “Mellow Gold,” Beck won the Grammy for “Album of the Year” for 2014’s “Morning Phase.” Now, his most recent album, “Hyperspace” has garnered similar consumer attention and critical acclaim.
Much of why Beck has been able to maintain his success for so long has been his ability to tear up his sound and start again. While “Mellow Gold” was a weird 90s alternative classic, “Morning Phase” was a soft and well produced folk rock record.
In 2017, Beck released “Colors,” an album which stylistically was a polar opposite from the album that won him a Grammy three years prior. “Colors” was a pop-centric record which focused on electronic sounds.
With “Hyperspace,” Beck has clearly tried to move in a similar direction as he did with “Colors,” but he has made some welcome changes. First, he recruited hip-hop legend Pharell Williams to produce the album. His presence his clear. The album’s instrumentals, especially the drums have a hip-hop feel, and it serves the album well. A perfect example of this is with the song “See Through.”
Overall, the albums sound is incredibly compelling. To get an understanding of this, the album cover is a perfect representation of the mood of “Hyperspace.” In it, Beck stands in front of a 1980’s sports car, sunset in the background. The singer stands, wearing a bright white suit and a bright red shirt, his hand hiding his face. At the top “Hyperspace” is written in Japanese lettering, in bright purple and hot pink. The cover is as mysterious and unusual as the album itself.
The sound is spacey, though it should be obvious for an album called “Hyperspace.” The album’s opener, “Hyperlife,” is a 30 minute killer track. The dream-like keyboards and a perfect complement to Beck’s hypnotic vocals.
The track that follows is also incredible. “Uneventful Days” features catchy synths and great atmospheric instrumentals. Beck’s vocals are again hypnotic.
Another great track is “Chemical.” The keyboard to open the track is bouncy, and it is yet another song that makes you feel as if you are flying through space. The work that Beck and Williams did to create this sound is quite incredible.
Beck is able to bend this sound in weird and wonderful ways on “Saw Lightning,” where he employs a slide guitar reminiscent of his 1994 hit “Loser,” and blends it well with his typical synths, drums, and keyboards on the album.
The problems with this album are not as deep and captivating as the strengths, but “Hyperspace” is an album that does little to build. Beyond the dreaminess of the album, there are no other emotions that come to the forefront. While many of the songs on an individual level are good, over time the album falls flat and sinks into the background of your mind. It is the album's spaciness and dream-like qualities that make it tough for the listener stay captivated over a period of time.
By the time the album gets to the title track and “Stratosphere,” the novelty of “Hyperspace” tends to wear out. The album does little to progress and continue to capture the imagination the way the earlier tracks did. While the album is good overall, the fact that it is a little one-note hinders its overall appeal.
In the future, Beck should continue to pursue this sound. He and Pharrell really have created some magic, but growing on that sound would make this album a much more interesting to listen to through the length of the album and not just the first few songs.
Reviewer’s Favorite Track: “Chemical”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “Stratosphere”
Jim Krueger is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.