Beck – Mellow Gold
Beck – Mellow Gold
Though he released a few limited-edition cassettes, for all intents and purposes, Mellow Gold was Beck’s debut, the album at which the world at large became acquainted with his slacker persona and free-form eclecticism. At the time, critics tagged Beck as both the Voice of a Generation and a one-hit wonder, thanks to his delirious folk-rap, “Loser,” one of the quintessential ’90s anthems. Although he would later go on to debunk those claims with a long, successful career, Mellow Gold is such a solid debut, so full of ideas, that it’s hard to believe he was ever thought of as a flash in the pan. Beck, at this stage in his career, is commonly referred to as “ironic” and a “prankster,” but while his music and lyrics bristle with humorous contradictions (Did he just sing about a ‘giant dildo crushing the sun’ on a brooding folk track?), these songs aren’t elitist parodies. He blends folk, rap, blues, country and the avant-garde freely and without hesitation, seemingly without effort, but he has a genuine love for these genres, even when he pokes fun from time to time. Aside from the iconic “Loser,” there is the the psychedelic rap of “Beercan,” which matches it in quality; the drowsy folk of “Pay No Mind (Snoozer)” and “Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997;” and the garage-blues of “Fuckin With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock);” And since the entirety of Mellow Gold was culled from Beck’s cassette recordings, the genres whip from one extreme to another, song to song (most notably from the silly folk of “Nightmare Hippy Girl” to the grinding industrial of “Mutherfuker”). Yet though the production may not tie the record together, Beck’s songwriting ability and colorful lyrics, which aren’t as nonsensical as they initially appear, grant it some cohesion. Mellow Gold also anticipated the following few decades of indie and alternative music where the term “genre-bending” often became the norm rather than the exception. He would continue developing this varied, anything-goes approach, but never again would Beck’s gonzo humor and bedroom experimentalism be on such full display again.