Beck has earned his reputation as being one of the most talented artists to come about in the last few decades. With "Odelay" Beck not only improves upon his major label debut "Mellow Gold", but he has managed to take so many different elements and types of music and blend them together into a kind of sonic soup. This album is recognized by many to be a defining album of the 1990's, and I would not disagree. On "Odelay" you will hear many instruments from acoustic guitar, slide guitar, electric guitar, to bass, drums, keyboards, clavinet, piano, saxophone, and pedal steel guitar.
When "Odelay" hit the airwaves in 1996, I hadn't ever really heard anything like it. I remember buying the album solely for the hit single "Where It's At". You can imagine my surprise when I got home, put the cd in the player and realized that every other song on this cd was as good as the hit single.
That is not an exaggeration. There isn't really a weak song on the entire album. Besides the party sound of "Where It's At", we are also treated to other hits "Devils Haircut", and "The New Pollution", both fine songs in their own right.
There is a lot of country influence on Odelay including the tracks "Lord Only Knows", and "Sissyneck". Of course these are not country songs in the usual sense, but have been laden with Beck hooks and samples, and the lyrics are some of his best. The chorus for "Sissyneck" is hilarious "I've got a stolen wife and a rhinestone life, and some good ol' boys, I'm writing my will on a three dollar bill in the evening time."
Also of note are the tracks "Derelict", and "Novacane" for their interesting effects, and some great sampling. These songs are a bit reminiscent of a bit of the Beastie Boy's work on albums such as "Check Yer Head" and "Ill Communication"… perhaps a big reason for that would be the production on "Odelay" by both Beck Hansen himself, and The Dust Brothers. Also, check out "Jack-Ass". The underlying sample music is from the Van Morrison song "It's All Over Now", this is one of the very best cuts on the entire LP, and I recommend many listenings.
Beck really has created some great music. This is probably his defining album. If you haven't listened to much Beck, then I would recommend this as a starter instead of his major label debut "Mellow Gold". It seems much more accessible than his older stuff, and really shows what the guy is all about. If you are looking for something different, intelligent, and fresh, then Beck Hansen is the guy you need to check out. Over time, I have found myself getting more and more addicted to this album. It is one of the best I own, and I would recommend it to anyone.
OVERALL GRADE: A-