Beck and Pharrell first discussed the idea of working together in 1999, but it’s taken almost 20 years to finally bring the two together.
‘Hyperlife’, the album’s brief but airy opener, sets the tone for the partnership as Pharrell’s minimalist production allows Beck’s fuller vocals to soar over a set of synths that sounds like something straight out of Space Odyssey. “I really tried to be less ambitious on the production on these songs, like to let them be simple and let them breathe,” Beck told NME. “Pharrell is a master minimalist. On production I’m a bit of a maximalist… I’ve really tried to reform myself to let it become more simple.
The simplicity is marked, and fans of Beck’s fuller, more melancholic folk-rock style (exemplified by albums such as the stunning, career-defining ‘Morning Phase’) might struggle with the minimalistic leap that ‘Hyperspace’ represents. Even fans of his Grammy Award-winning ‘Colors’, which saw Beck venture further into the mainstream with infectious songs like ‘Dear Life’, may find the experimentalism here too stark – especially on the album’s first half.
The album is at its best where Beck and Pharell meet in the middle: when their worlds do manage to cosmically align, the songs are at their most memorable and interesting. After a career spanning 30-years, Beck is still shape-shifting and proves, once again, that no genre isn’t malleable for him.
Read the full write-up at NME