Mutations (Beck album)

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Studio album by Beck
Released November 3, 1998
Recorded March 19, 1998 – April 3, 1998
Genre Psychedelic folk, alternative country, folk rock, alternative rock, blues
Length 49:17
Label Geffen
Producer Beck Hansen, Nigel Godrich
Beck chronology
Midnite Vultures

Mutations is the third official studio album and sixth overall by American alternative rock artist Beck, released in 1998 on Geffen Records. Though less successful on the charts than the preceding Odelay, Mutations established Beck as an eclectic and innovative artist for his sample-free mixture of far-ranging musical genres, including folk rock, bossa nova, psychedelia, country, and blues. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.[1]



Mutations was produced by Nigel Godrich, who was well-known at that point for his previous work with Radiohead. The album contains a number of Moog keyboards, acoustic guitars, and string arrangements.[2] The production style was very different from that of his previous album Odelay, which was heavily influenced by hip hop music and contained many samples. The lyrical content of Mutations is also much more somber and serious than that on Odelay, apparent in the songs "Nobody's Fault But My Own" and "Dead Melodies."

Title and packaging[edit]

The title Mutations may be a nod to an influential Brazilian band of the late 60s, Os Mutantes. The song "Tropicalia" pastiches the works of Brazilian tropicalia artists of the era.

The record's front cover, a picture of Beck tangled in plastic wrap, was taken by music photographer Autumn de Wilde. Art direction was by abstract artist Robert M. Fisher.

The interior artwork features sculptures and drawings by artist Tim Hawkinson.


Before beginning the recording sessions, Beck gained permission from the major label he was under contract with, Geffen, to release Mutations on the small indie label Bong Load Records. However, when Geffen executives heard the album, they reneged on their agreement and released the record. This led to a lawsuit filed by Beck against Geffen. As the record was in a markedly different style than the multi-platinum Odelay, Geffen's marketing effort suggested that the album was not an "official" follow-up, but this was not given wide credence in the music press.[citation needed]

Singles were released for the songs "Tropicalia", "Cold Brains" (Australia Only), and "Nobody's Fault But My Own" (Japan Only). No promotional music videos were made for any of the singles. Beck appeared on Saturday Night Live in promotion of Mutations, performing "Tropicalia" and "Nobody's Fault But My Own."

Mutations peaked at #13 in the US, going gold, and achieved #24 in the UK and #23 in Australia. As of July 2008, Mutations has sold 586,000 copies in the United States.[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[4]
The A.V. Club (positive)[9]
Entertainment Weekly B[5]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars[6]
NME (8/10)[7]
Pitchfork Media (9.0/10)[8]
Robert Christgau A-[10]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[11]

The album received mostly positive reviews, gaining four stars from Rolling Stone and a 9.0 from Pitchfork Media. AllMusic deemed the record "one of the finest albums of the 1990s."[12]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Beck Hansen

No. Title Length
1. "Cold Brains"   3:41
2. "Nobody's Fault but My Own"   5:02
3. "Lazy Flies"   3:44
4. "Canceled Check"   3:14
5. "We Live Again"   3:05
6. "Tropicalia"   3:20
7. "Dead Melodies"   2:36
8. "Bottle of Blues"   4:56
9. "O Maria"   3:59
10. "Sing It Again"   4:19
11. "Static" ("Static" ends at 4:20, hidden track "Diamond Bollocks" starts at 5:18) 11:20

Bonus tracks[edit]

There are a variety of bonus tracks on non-U.S. pressings of the album.

  • "Electric Music and the Summer People" (Japanese release track 12).
  • "Diamond Bollocks" is track 12 (track 13 on Japanese release), whereas it is an unlisted hidden track on the US Release.
  • "Runners Dial Zero": (UK, German releases track 13 and Japanese release track 14).
  • "Halo of Gold" (German Limited Edition track 14).
  • "Black Balloon" (German Limited Edition track 15).



Charts (1998–99) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[13] 24
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[14] 6
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[15] 40
French Albums (SNEP)[16] 36
German Albums (Official Top 100)[17] 49
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[18] 24
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[19] 18
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 29
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[21] 46
UK Albums (OCC)[22] 24
US Billboard 200[23] 13


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[24] Platinum 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[25] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Alternative Music Performance". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2012-03-02. 
  2. ^ AllMusic credits entry for Mutations
  3. ^ "Ask Billboard". Billboard. 2008-07-18. Archived from the original on 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Mutations - Beck". AllMusic. 
  5. ^ Browne, David (1998-10-30). "Mutations Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  6. ^ "Top Pop Albums". Los Angeles Times. December 3, 1998. Retrieved 2012-12-23. 
  7. ^ "Album Reviews - Mutations". NME. September 29, 1998. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  8. ^ Lieberman, Neil (1998-11-01). "Mutations - Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  9. ^ Phipps, Keith (2002-04-19). "Beck: Mutations". The A.V. Club. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Artist 113". Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  11. ^ Brackett, Nathan (2002-11-27). "Mutations". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  12. ^ AllMusic review for the track "Cold Brains"
  13. ^ "Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  14. ^ "Beck – Chart history" Billboard Canadian Albums Chart for Beck. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  15. ^ "Beck: Mutations" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  16. ^ "Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  17. ^ "Beck – Mutations". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  18. ^ "Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  19. ^ "Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  21. ^ "Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  22. ^ "1998-11-14 Top 40 UK Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  23. ^ "Beck – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Beck. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  24. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Beck – Mutations". Music Canada. 
  25. ^ "American album certifications – Beck – Mutations". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]