Though Beck has many good albums, he’s never made one capital-G Great album – remove “Loser” and Mellow Gold wouldn’t get as many huzzah’s – and I’ve long suspected he was a singles artist. After 2008’s Modern Guilt, he took an unprecedented six year album hiatus, but he kept busy in the interim; in 2013, he released three 12″ singles, “Defriended,” “I Won’t Be Long” and “Gimme.” Each is different than the last and each is complete with rather excellent cover art.
The verses in “Defriended” could have used less reverb and more melody (read: any melody); at times it sounds like a reject off Panda’s Tomboy, and this is not a good thing. But the horns and acoustic guitars do their part, and the drum programming – thunderous rolls and the occasional explosion – is the most interesting thing Beck’s done in years. The second best of the three.
The chord progression in the chorus of “I Won’t Be Long” is too familiar, but “I Won’t Be Long” is the most groove-centric song Beck’s written since 2006’s The Information (a good thing) and I’m a sucker for the 80s-styled drumrolls that marks the end of the choruses. The best of the three.
“Gimme” goes south as soon as the vocals begin; the harmonies are interesting but not good, and music can be both. At least it’s blissfully short, though. The worst of the three.