Volume 93, Issue 52

Wednesday, December 1, 1999


Train just keeps on comin'

Public finds soft spot in Stern's private parts

Vultures a smug success

Undercovers reveal nothing promising

Vultures a smug success

Midnite Vultures

He really can do no wrong, this Beck.

He swathes his music with layer after layer of extravagance, loads his lyrics with enough abstract witticisms to make Dennis Miller cross-eyed and still, he's the golden boy of modern day pop. It seems no matter how stupid or extravagant Beck gets, people still love him for it. More than any other mainstream musician, he's somehow managed to avoid any significant critical backlash.

Exactly what is it about him that makes him so untouchable? Is it the innocent face? The unflinching irony? The way he incorporates '80s breakdance moves into his live routine?

It's all of these things, of course, but it takes an album like Midnite Vultures to remind you that once upon a time, it was actually about the music too. As usual, Beck has managed to somehow cross-breed airtight pop songs with a disjointed and often dizzying production value. The result is up to par with the best of Beck's oeuvre and proves conclusively that irony is the best way for a pop star to stay afloat these days.

From the whacked-out electro stutter of the hilariously camp "Get Real Paid" to the spaced-out classic rock homage "Milk & Honey," Midnite Vultures is absolutely rife with smug musical in-jokes and knowing winks. The end result is a damn good record that's not meant to be taken seriously, but will somehow be elevated to godlike status by anxious and overzealous critics nonetheless.

Only Beck could pull that off.

–Mark Pytlik

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Copyright The Gazette 1999