|Studio album by Beck|
|Released||October 3, 2006|
|Recorded||Winter 2003 – Spring 2006|
|Genre||Alternative rock, alternative hip hop |
|The A.V. Club||A−|
(7.4/10) (Deluxe version)
The Information is the tenth studio album by American alternative rock musician Beck, released in October 2006 on Interscope Records. It was produced and mixed by the established producer Nigel Godrich, a long time Beck collaborator. Recording began in 2003 concurrently with Guero, but the album was not completed until 2006. The albums music and lyrics hearken back to the collage of loose-limbed, quirky white-boy funk-rock and rap that brought Beck fame. Upon its release on October 3, 2006 Beck finally got to do things his way saying "I've been trying to do something like this for the last three albums,". Rolling Stone magazine named it the 24th best album of 2006, while Spin magazine ranked it number 10 on their 40 Best Albums of 2006.
- 1 Production
- 2 Release
- 3 Track listing
- 4 Samples
- 5 Personnel
- 6 Charts and certifications
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Before its release, Beck said the album was not a "stripped down" record, in contrast with his previous Godrich collaborations Mutations and Sea Change. According to Beck, "Nigel [Godrich] said he wanted to do a hip-hop record" before they began work on the album. "And in a way it is, and in a way it isn't. It has hip-hop songs, and my previous work with him was Mutations and Sea Change, these sort of introspective records, and so this new one is sort of bringing those two worlds together."
It started out painless, and ended up being painful. It's as if we made the album once, and we made it again, and we made it a third time. We started the record in 2003, and we got together annually, the producer [Nigel Godrich] and I. We combed over everything, and got rid of the things we were tired of, the things that seemed trite.
The first single in North America was "Nausea," which officially went to radio on September 5, 2006. The first single in the UK was "Cellphone's Dead", with an official video directed by Michel Gondry. "Think I'm In Love" went to US radio as the second and final single and became a Modern Rock and Triple A radio hit, garnering renewed interest in The Information.
On February 27, 2007, a "deluxe version" of the album was released. It contained the original album plus three songs only available internationally, six remixes, a complete printing of the lyrics, a DVD with all the studio-released videos plus bonus non-studio-released videos of "Nausea" and "Cellphone's Dead", and four different sticker sheets for the album cover.
Music and Lyrics
Musically, it's certainly a kindred spirit to Guero, meaning that it hearkens back to the collage of loose-limbed, quirky white-boy funk-rock and rap that brought Beck fame at the peak of the alt-rock revolution, with hints of the psychedelia of Mutations and the folk-rock that was the basis for Sea Change. Since this is a Nigel Godrich production, it's meticulous and precise even when it wants to give the illusion of spontaneity, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it also pulls the album into focus, something that the generally fine Guero could have used. The Information is far more of a proper album than Guero, coming fully equipped with recurring themes and motifs, feeling every bit the concept album Sea Change was. Credit might go partially to his collaboration with Godrich—who is nothing if not a taskmaster. There's nothing here that Beck hasn't done before, but it sounds unexpected once again, which is a fitting development for an artist who made his name repurposing old material in unexpected ways. Here, he's done a Beck on himself, and built a stronger, funkier, more moving Beck in the process.
Some copies of the album include a bonus DVD of specially filmed music videos, one for each track on the record. In the Wired interview, Beck explained the making of these videos, which would also appear on video-sharing site YouTube:
We filmed a series of very low-budget, homemade videos for all the songs on the record. We got a bunch of cameras and a $100 video mixer off eBay and shot 15 silly, impromptu videos against a green screen. We even invited our friends and family into the studio to be a part of the action — my mother-in-law did the lighting, and my son and nieces and nephews are running around acting crazy. It was just a complete free-for-all, done on the fly. We're putting all the videos together right now with the idea of having a visual version of the record that we'll put on the Internet. I'm totally curious to see how the videos will add to the experience of listening to the album. Or maybe they'll actually detract from the experience. That would be funny.
The album was issued with a blank sleeve and booklet and one of four different sheets of stickers for fans to make their own album art. Beck explained to Wired magazine he wanted no two copies of the CD cover to be the same: "The artwork is going to be customizable. The idea is to provide something that calls for interactivity." However, because the album art concept was seen as a gimmick to bolster retail sales, The Information was deemed ineligible to enter the UK Albums Chart.
Formats and Promotion
For The Information, Beck made low-budget videos to accompany every song, packaged the CD with sheets of stickers so buyers can customize the cover and leaked tracks and videos on his Web site months ahead of the album. "We're moving into a time when the song and the imagery and video are all able to exist as one thing," says Beck. "It's not even technically an audio thing anymore. It's something else." "I've been trying to do something like this for the last three albums," says Beck, who released several versions of his previous disc Guero, including a deluxe CD/DVD package and a remix album called Guerolito. "The conventional ways aren't working like they used to, so now there's a willingness to try new things."  Interscope would go on to release a deluxe edition of the album in 2007. It included a DVD containing the videos created collaboratively with producer Nigel Godrich and also a full disc of remixes which consisted of three songs remixed on six tracks.
The album reached #7 on the US's Billboard 200, #6 in Canada and #31 on Australia's ARIA Chart. As of July 2008, The Information has sold 434,000 copies in the United States. With Listeners accustomed to hearing a brand new side of Beck on each album up to 2002's Sea change; critics would describe his works afterwards as being "Beck-like" meaning they sounded more like revisits instead of reinventions. The New York Times would credit the albums dark themes as a reflection of the world’s condition around him at the time, and felt that Beck had made that apparent on the videos released alongside the album. They felt it’s music was a 1960’s pop infused sound with a more driven message. The English webzine Drowned In Sound released a review that suggested The Information was a mature and honest attempt at a multiple genre production without recreating what he has already accomplished. They praised Beck’s variation in vocal style, ability to create a logical flow of tracks, and reflection of his unpredictable styles. Village Voice put out a review crediting Beck as being as detached as he has ever been and that the band was far more energetic then he. They would credit the work with Nigel Godrich as being even more sample heavy than his Dust Brother collaborations, and that the album ultimately suffered from Beck’s disconnected approach. Pitchfork Media wrote a review for the deluxe edition of the album which they felt was mostly a cash in on a looked over album, but they did give respect to its full discs of remixes which included covers by big name performers.
All songs written and composed by Beck Hansen, except where noted.
|2.||"Think I'm in Love"||3:20|
|5.||"Soldier Jane" (Hansen, Nigel Godrich)||3:59|
|9.||"We Dance Alone"||3:57|
|12.||"Motorcade" (Hansen, Nigel Godrich)||4:15|
|14.||"Movie Theme" (Hansen, Nigel Godrich)||3:53|
|15.||"The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton" (Hansen, Nigel Godrich)||10:36|
|16.||"Inside Out" (UK and Japanese releases)||3:43|
|17.||"This Girl That I Know" (UK and Japanese releases)||2:43|
|18.||"O Menina" (Japan only)||2:08|
Disc one contains the original album with "Movie Theme" moved to track 8, "Dark Star" moved to track 7, "New Round moved to track 14" and the three Japanese bonus tracks.
|Deluxe Edition Disc 2|
|1.||"Cellphone's Dead" (Ellen Allien remix)||5:37|
|2.||"Nausea" (Bumblebeez remix)||2:28|
|3.||"Dark Star" (David Andrew Sitek remix)||4:08|
|4.||"Nausea" (The Chap remix)||3:55|
|5.||"Cellphone's Dead" (Jamie Lidell Limited Minutes remix)||4:32|
|6.||"Cellphone's Dead" (Ricardo Villalobos remix)||14:38|
The third disc of the album contains some of Beck's homemade music videos.
- The Horrible Fanfare section uses a sample of Cellphone's Dead.
- The Landslide section uses a sample from the song Requiem pour un con, by the French singer Serge Gainsbourg.
- The Exoskeleton section contains dialogue spoken by Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze.
- Beck – vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, melodica, piano, organ, keyboards, programming, effects, scratching, sitar, bass guitar, harmonica, kalimba, percussion, drums, drum effects, glockenspiel, Game Boy
- Nigel Godrich – production, mixing, keyboards, programming, effects, scratching, tambourine, percussion, background vocals, Speak 'n Spell, whistle, Tote-A-Tune, kalimba, drums, Game Boy
- Jason Falkner – bass guitars, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, African bass, Moog synthesizer bass, background vocals, percussion, drums
- James Gadson – drums, percussion, background vocals
- Joey Waronker – drums, percussion, background vocals
- Smokey Hormel – intro sounds
- Justin Meldal-Johnsen – intro sounds
- Roger Manning Jr. – intro sounds
- Alex Acuña – percussion, background vocals
- Harvey Mason – drums
- Brian LeBarton – Speak 'n Spell
- Justin Stanley – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, background vocals, percussion, flute
- Greg Kurstin – keyboards, berimbau, piano, bass keyboard, synthesizer, background vocals, acoustic guitar
- DJ Z-Trip – scratching
- Stevie Black – cello, percussion, background vocals
- Lucia Ribisi – girl on "Cellphone's Dead"
- Cosimo Hansen – talking
- Sean Davis – bass guitars
- Rachel Shelley – shipping forecast
- David Campbell – string arrangements, conductor
- Suzie Katayama – strings
- Charlie Bisharat – strings
- Spike Jonze – talking on "Exoskeleton"
- Dave Eggers – talking on "Exoskeleton"
Charts and certifications
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||31|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||56|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||22|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||50|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||6|
|Danish Albums (Hitlisten)||15|
|Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)||58|
|Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)||39|
|French Albums (SNEP)||40|
|German Albums (Official Top 100)||78|
|New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)||37|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||20|
|Portuguese Albums (AFP)||26|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||32|
|US Billboard 200||7|
|US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)||3|
It should be noted that the United Kingdom's Official Chart Company deemed 'The Information' ineligible for charting as it's build-it-yourself sticker album art to be 'an unfair advantage' to album sales.
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- Video clips for The Information at YouTube