MUSIC

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 www.youtube.com

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.

Larry Kramer, AIDS activist and artist, passed away today at 84.

Kramer was known for his books Faggots and The American People, as well as climate-changing plays like The Normal Heart. His close friend and literary executor, William Schwalbe, told CNN that Kramer died of pneumonia."Larry made a huge contribution to our world as an activist but also as a writer," said Schwalbe, who had known Kramer for 57 years. "I believe that his plays and novels, from 'The Normal Heart' to 'The American People' will more than stand the test of time."

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Eclectic avant-garde pop artist serpentwithfeet announced his return today with a new track featuring Ty Dolla $ign.

"Receipts" is a soft-spoken, minimalistic love song, layered with the tightly wound acapella harmonies 30-year-old Josiah Wise has honed since the beginning of his career. "This song carries a lot of weight for me because it's a snapshot of two brothers rhapsodizing about unforeseen romance," the singer said of the track.

The track itself flows in a similar cadence as the singer's previous work. The melody is soothing and inviting, with Wise's voluminous voice pushing the song along, each verse cascading into the next. Ty Dolla $ign is a perfect fit for the slow-burn track and holds his own without overpowering the song's main attraction. "I began writing 'Receipts' when I first moved to Los Angeles last summer," The Brooklyn-based singer said in a statement. "I was and still am mystified by the city—the mountains, the men, the hummingbirds." While it's unclear if "Receipts" will appear on a larger body of work, it's nice to hear the unassuming talents of Josiah Wise back in action.