Beck has been on a roll. His last two efforts, the simply astounding Sea Change and the genre-bending Guero, were the two finest hours of his career. With his latest, The Information, Beck continues his classic fusion of altered folk and white boy hip-hop that claimed much of his early success, while developing some new tricks that never seem fully realized.
More specifically, The Information feels like a magic trick gone wrong. It’s as if Beck took out some life insurance and decided to go to town on his body; leaping from skyscrapers, lunging in front of moving vehicles, anything that might get him caught in a dangerous situation.
With The Information, he has a back-breaking production full of disorder and unappealing musical collisions that amount to more devastation than the album can bear. While Beck may be satisfying his urge to run amok on an album, his music is suffering because of it.
The Information is one of Beck’s most challenging albums. It begs to be pieced together and re-interrupted with every listen; this isn’t something you listen to on your way to work every morning.
The major problem to be had with The Information is it simply gets too carried away with itself. There is good stuff here (“Think I’m In Love,” “Soldier Jane” and “Nausea”), but Beck’s refusal to keep the album’s structure fairly consistent makes The Information a sad misstep for his career.
Danny Gordon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.