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Beck, ‘The Information’ (Interscope)

There have always been two Becks: the SoCal slack-hop brainchild of 1996’s Odelay and the suicide-ballad crooner of 2002’s Sea Change. Each has been loved individually, but what if a mad scientist could create a Frankenbeck that combined those two personalities?

That scientist is Nigel Godrich (who also produced Sea Change), and the result is The Information. It’s the album that splits the difference between the two Becks, dressing up his ambling beat science in Godrich’s dystopian keyboard squeals and humming synths.

There’s an overall kitschy spookiness. On “1000 BPM,” Beck stutters tensely over junkyard percussion reminiscent of Tom Waits. “We Dance Alone” begins as a funk-folk throwaway, but breaks down into a pulsating noise jam that could score a David Lynch film. The whole album is loaded with existentialist imagery; he even titles the first single “Nausea.” What he’s worried about is unclear — his place in pop history? His family? His thetan level? Regardless, it makes for some compelling ambience.

The Information isn’t the much-awaited watershed sequel to Odelay — it’s about three songs too long and a little all over the place. But Beck’s twitchy pop-funk has rarely come across as this confident. Consider The Information his reanimation.

Now Hear This: Beck – “Nausea” WINDOWS MEDIA

>> Listen to Beck on Napster