Beck's "Hyperspace" Drags at Times, But Who Cares?

The man is a legend that we're not worthy of critiquing

Chances are no two reviewers have the same opinion about Beck Hansen.

After all, malleability has always been Hansen's superpower. His seemingly endless capacity for amalgamating genres makes it impossible for music journalists to review his work without seeming pretentious. While Morning Phase and Sea Change are (almost) unanimously considered his greatest triumphs, critics have remained divided on what constitutes Beck's worst album. Some think it to be the oddball psychedelic folk-hop of Stereopathetic Soulmanure, while others think the satirical, lo-fi, anti-folk of One Foot In The Grave is well-deserving of the title. In Pitchfork's case, 2017's Colors sucks, but even then, the album was universally lauded and spawned two major GRAMMY victories.

With that said, Beck's Hyperspace is a rather vanilla release from the polymath, considering his rampant experimentation in the past. The project is filled with profound moments that will impress some critics and leave others unphased. It follows a thematic steadiness similar to Colors in that it is one singular mood. Colors was unbridled in its blistering euphoria, while Hyperspace is a thick cloud of bitter nostalgia, heartbreak, and melancholy. It's wrapped in the lush lo-fi production chops of Pharrell Williams, but the project never seems to breathe and ascend above the clouds it creates.

Beck - Uneventful Days

Beck wants to remain under his cloud for now, and the album slowly caves under its one-sided emotional baggage. "You threw the keys to the kingdom, over a skyscraper wall, sowing seeds somewhere obsolete in the everlasting nothing," he sings over 808's on the dreary album closer. There are stagnant/tepid moments on Hyperspace that are surprising in light of the monumental talent at work here. There are beautiful moments of clarity on songs like "Stratosphere" and "See-Through," but it's difficult to appreciate those amidst the album's exhaustive opacity.

But Beck is also going through a monumental shift in his life, and any of us would look towards the stars for meaning if we were as starved for elucidation as he seems to be. Beck doesn't know how he got here, and he desperately wants to. "I don't even know what's wrong," he sings on "Uneventful Days." The project's honesty makes its dull moments at least feel authentic, and this authenticity inevitably saves the album from itself.

Yet critics, once again, remain divided. NME has already given the project four stars, praising the minimalist production and smart collaborations with Sky Ferrera and Coldplay's Chris Martin, while NPR calls the album stiff and monotonous. But Beck's refusal to be boxed-in is his greatest strength, and no single review can effectively capture all that he is even 26 years into his career Hyperspace is a fine album; it's just not his "best album," and for Beck to have a standard of that caliber as a baseline reminds us how much of a juggernaut he's become.

Music Features

On This Day: Shakira Liberated Everyone's “She Wolf”

"I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting," Shakira said.

By Fabio Alexx

11 years ago, on July 10th, 2009, Colombian singer Shakira released the first single off her third studio album.

"She Wolf" is a synth-pop banger built on a B minor progression. It was, in many ways, an insane song, born out of the singer's own frustration and ennui.

"I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting," Shakira said.

Though the music was composed by John Hill and Sam Endicott, lead singer of post-punk band The Bravery, the lyrics were all Shakira's own. "[Shakira] contacted him (Hill), asking if he had any stuff," said Endicott. "We never had her in mind. We just made the thing independently of her, and then she liked it a lot, and she sang over it. She used some of the melodies we put in there and then wrote these crazy lyrics about being a werewolf. And that's how it happened."

Shakira - She Wolf

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MUSIC | Ryan McCartan releases debut single "Changed My Mind"

The off-Broadway and TV star released this single off of his first solo EP "The Opposite"

"'Changed My Mind' is the premiere single off my debut solo EP 'The Opposite.' This is a massive passion project of mine, as every song was written, performed, produced, recorded and engineered all by me in my home studio."

In a world where we are constantly hearing break-up narratives from a million different artists, it's nice to hear something that's more raw that what we're given. I'm not saying these other artists don't share a lot with us and bear their soul - art always allows you to do that, even in its most commercialized form. Still, there's something about hearing an artist who has done everything himself - someone who has had complete control over everything from writing to production to release. There's a realness there, and I think that's what McCartan has given us with this new single.

For those who aren't familiar with this Broadway/TV darling, Ryan McCartan first rose to prominence in a recurring role on the Disney Channel TV show, Liv and Maddie. From there, he went on to play JD in the hit off-Broadway adaptation of Heathers, and even got the chance to play Brad Masters in Fox's recording of The Rocky Horror Picture Show! And while the latter wasn't the most well-received show ever, no one can argue that McCartan's voice wasn't electrifying.

Now, coming off of the break up of The Girl and the Dreamcatcher (which McCartan had formed with his ex-girlfriend, Liv and Maddie star, Dove Cameron), he is back to release a new EP. Ryan has this to say about his new release:

"'Changed My Mind' is one of five songs on the EP, which takes listeners through my convoluted and tumultuous grieving process following a horrific break up. Each song represents one of the five stages of grief, and 'Changed My Mind' is the final stage of acceptance. I feel blessed every day to be able to create and share my art with the world. I've never been happier in my entire life!"

I can't say which break up McCartan is referring to. Perhaps he's talking about his break up with Cameron? Or maybe there was another that wasn't necessarily in the spotlight. Regardless, what McCartan brings to the table is catchy and fun, that is charged with an emotional energy that doesn't seem manufactured or disingenuous. Is it the most groundbreaking single I've ever heard? No. But it is real, and you can feel it in the work that McCartan has put into this track.

Bottom line: It's fun, it's emotional, and to this writer, it's a great start, and I can't wait to see what more McCartan brings to us in the future.

What did you think of the song? Do you want to buy the EP? Do you want to follow this great artist on social media? Then you should follow him on his social media!

Follow Ryan McCartan on Instagram



And listen to the single on Spotify or Apple Music!

Shann Smith is a freelance writer, screenwriter, playwright, gamer, music lover, and film/TV lover. When he's not working on his columns for Popdust, he's doing his best to create and consume as much media as he can!

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