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Beck Hansen may well come to regret the day he wrote the "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me" line. He has the standard card-carrying hippy background: son of a bluegrass player; lived with preacher grandfather in Kansas; hitched around Europe and lived with his sculptor uncle before embarking upon music in New York — all, allegedly, before he was 16.
That bit of history said, what Beck's past doesn't suggest is Mellow Gold. Loser, probably the first Top 20 single to feature the line "Dog food skulls with the beefcake pantyhose", is a fair starting point. Beck samples all possible musical themes — folk, rap, unidentifiable plinky, farty sounds — and coats them with an ear-friendly pop gloss without quite losing the feeling that there's things here which haven't been heard before.
Beck creates characters, always interesting, usually unusual and unsympathetic. The bitter runaway in Soul Suckin' Jerk; the Truck Drivin' Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat) ("Whiskey-stained buck-tooth, backwoods creep/Grizzly bear motherf****r who never goes to sleep"); and the hideous Nitemare Hippy Girl ("She's cooking salad for breakfast/She's got tofu the size of Texas"), all help knit together Beck's view of the weird world.
Musically, he's incredibly inventive. Pay No Mind (Snoozer) and Blackhole are folky, country-pop, Motherf****r is urban paranoia, while Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997 could be Tom Waits. Worst of all, there's neither hide nor hair of his debut single, MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack.
If you want weirdness, you'll find it here aplenty, but it's not particularly mellow, and certainly not gold. I am a big Beck fan, and if it's more of the same you're after, you'll find it here.
Loser Pay No Mind (Snoozer) Fuckin With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock) Whisk eyclone, Hotel City 1997 Soul Suckin Jerk Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat) Sweet Sunshine Beercan Steal My Body Home Nitemare Hippy Girl Mutherf****r Blackhole