beck – odelay

it was a golden era.

there were intersections with jon spencer; there was a parallel into more of that country-inflected music that i would accept liking about year after this came out. it also had a lot of swagger and funk, and those combinations with some outright rock were perfectly timed and hard to resist.

it was popular, but not too popular. it was also rife with such odd lyrics that one could very easily misconstrue what was going on. but that was never actually the point. these songs were a lot more about the construction, the sound, rather than any literal or even metaphorical statement they might be making.

there are many excellent songs, and indeed singles, that i understood. there are two beautiful quiet songs that always made me teary – jack-ass and ramshackle – while the rest just drove movement and joy.

i think some pretty clear heirs to this music are unknown mortal orchestra and even liars in some aspects. along with you am i, my local love around the time, the articulation of the bass was the most remarkable of the sounds (along with odd electronic bleeps and samples). by saying these things, though, i feel like i am somehow downplaying the role this album had in helping form my musical independence and taste.

it’s true there is little else in the collection that is anything like it, really, in spite of connections to several of the other bands i loved of the day. this might not have been an overt expression of my identity, then or now, but it was a symbol of just how awesome music could be. and almost in spite of being sample-heavy, it stands the test of time (it is, after all, approaching 20 years of age).


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