“Dolby’s Rupees: Beck – The Information”

Sure, most Beck fans already know The Information rocks. It came out back in a time when the event of an artist like Beck doling a new release still created a BUZZ around town, like your favorite team making the championship, or an eclipse, or whatever. Probably more than any other instance, the luke-warm Pitchfork review of this album really pi**ed me off [1]: I even remember the critic making a comment that Beck’s raps were rhythmically challenged, whereas one thought I’d had the first time I heard “Elevator Music” was how cool his rhyme schemes were and how almost hilariously adept he was, for a white dude, at pulling them off. 

Anyway, the reason I’m being one of those stocky blogosphere douche bags about Beck’s aural “school of informatics” has to do, in particular, with track two, “Think I’m in Love”; and this song will be the primary focus of this post, with a couple of asides into other key tracks peppered in sparely. “Think I’m in Love”; at its basis, is a passable album track — not anything anybody would call the emotional centerpiece, but it’s got STYLE, all that riffiness set to drum machine and the precocious foil of that catchy pop tune following a pretty lengthy set of rap segments, the track prior. 

One particular aspect I wanted to focus on, regarding this track, was the lyrical statement in the chorus of “I think I’m in love / But it makes me kind of nervous to say so”. Indeed, this song made me kind of nervous, when I heard it. If you’re like me, and everyone else under the sun, you’d already taken in Beck’s brooding, apocalyptically heartbroken LP Sea Change, which artistically spawned, in essence, as the result of a romantic breakup, circa 2001, for a 2002 release date [2]. I was like, oh God. Here we go. And, truth be told, “Think I’m in Love” always kind of pi**ed me off, because of how nonchalantly Beck makes this declaration thereon. 

But now, just as of recent, it has dawned on me what he was actually doing on this song. He’s making a joke — the nonchalance is a hyperbolic, absurd reference to the actuality of the matter at hand, which is that, when Beck gets his heart broken, the whole world knows about it, in lurid, vivid, vituperative and 50-minutes-at-a-time detail. He’s like PJ Harvey in this regard. So when he offers this being “in love” tidbit as an off-the-cuff afterthought, it’s disposition as sarcasm, like in The Big Lebowski when Walter remarks that the handoff “went alright… Dude’s car got a little dinged up”… (whereas they actually didn’t make the correct handoff at all and The Dude’s car emerged looking like Swiss cheese). And, I think, it’s only natural not to notice it at first — any sensitive Beck listener would be scared from him mentioning the concept of “love” in the wake of such a calamity as Sea Change, reincarnated too on the betwixt album Guero (2005) and the mournful “Broken Drum.”

Why is it important that Beck is making fun of himself on “Think I’m in Love”? Oh, I dunno that it ultimately is, but it’s pretty da**ed funny, anyway, and surely stands as a proud, now extinct, instance of a rock artist successfully issuing a tongue-in-cheek statement in a rock song [3]. 

Also, it’s a testament to the excellent album The Information, and its tense, fibrous artistic efficacy, that it’s able to peel off in layers like this, and pay off in a new, fresh sort of way, 18 years following the initial listen, as it at least has for me. In addition to this, the title track seems to be a song that’s just criminally underrated and ignored — it’s this booming, almost industrial brand of dj/pop, like a permutation of electro that makes you think more of Cypress Hill and Body Count than dancing, ecstasy or cross-dressing. I actually even have a memory of this dude in Indianapolis glaring at me when he heard it bumping from my shi**y little Honda hatchback — a sure-fire sign that your music really bangs, like also happened to me up in Mishawaka with Del’s “Mistadobalina.” I’m sure I’ve said this a thousand times but “Soldier Jane” was ripped off tit-for-tat for Lotus Plaza’s (excellent) “Eveningness”; one not really one-upping the other, necessarily, in terms of production, per se, but perhaps notable for the eerie similarity in singing voices among Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt. The two final cuts, by that coin, become a sort of ideal in electro psychedelia, and do the so the old-school way, taking the Pink Floyd ethos (precipiated, in part, by Ween on “Among His Tribe”) of blissed-out, apathetic, Zen-approaching chord changing and cosmic quip, and debasing it of its element of rock percussion, hence readying it for poignant drives through Beck’s native LA. “Movie Theme” is the primarily adept cog in this operation. There, that oughta get the Pitchfork dudes puking in the bathroom at the local meat market. 

[1] Then, it’s very likely that this piece of journalism spawned the Onion article “Pitchfork Gives Music a 6.8” — a clipping I tore out and taped onto the inside of one of the little CD booklets I had. 


[2] I personally have a theory that his then-girlfriend just really hated Midnite Vultures and its weird, ambiguous references to fu**ing underaged girls. 


[3] No thanks to Pitchfork, too, for taking Interpol’s “Her stories are boring and stuff” and Radiohead’s “We’re happy just to serve you” at face value. 


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