Beck, Mutations

1998 Geffen / Bong Load Records

I love listening to full albums in autumn that seem to match the season.  Generally Lo-fi, with a sound that is both coming down from sweaty summer grooves, and hinting at the pluckiness of winter isolation.  Late night around a fire pit, say, after a party day with friends.

Tucked between the success of the massive hitmaker Odelay and the Prince-inspired Midnite Vultures, sits such a record for me: Beck’s 1998 departure album Mutations. It’s not hit-single driven, and deceivingly stripped down upon first listen.  Produced by Nigel Godrich (notably of Radiohead’s OK Computer), it is acoustic forward, mixing blues, country, folk, and hey why not – bossanova.

It’s more than meets the ear, however, with layer upon layered complexity and genre-spanning influences, instrumentation, psychedelia, and enough background boingy boinginess to remind you just whose album you’re listening to. Showing off Beck’s songwriting versatility, Mutations is as well-crafted as your favorite beverage of choice sitting at that fire pit. 

Headphones recommended.