Saturday, May 15, 2021

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Sound Check

Sound Check



Capitol Records

It’s been a long road to “Colors,” Beck’s 13th album. The first single, “Dreams,” was released more than two years ago, and the singer has teased fans with a few more songs since then. Four years after “Morning Phase,” and we finally have more Beck. Like all of Beck’s albums, it’s a little weird, but a different weird than past recordings.

Beck has a pattern of trading off between slower, more introspective albums and more upbeat, dancy ones. “Colors” is the latter, but it draws from an 1980s style, best exemplified by the song “Seventh Heaven,” which sounds like it’s been plucked from the playlist of some forgotten top 40 station. This is pure, distilled pop, maybe not what you would expect from a nearly 50-year-old Beck, but his catalog should have taught us to expect the unexpected.

Beck is an artist who was almost immediately dismissed as a one-hit-wonder, so to have seen him advance to this style seems fairly fitting. “Colors” is an album of poppy, catchy earworms, but none of it feels disposable. It’s an extension of his “Odelay,” “Midnight Vultures” and “Guerro” style, fulfilling the needs of “fun” Beck fans before he gets serious again in a few years. ♦

“The Host Country”

The Host Country

Prep Iowa

On their second album, Diana Weishaar and Ty Wistrand of The Host Country seem to have perfected their folky sounds, with the duo’s voice guitar (Wistrand) and keys (Weishaar) blending together to create music that is grounded and ethereal at the same time.

The album opens with “How the Four Winds Blows,” a perfect example of how the two singers’ voices play off each other against the backdrop of instrumentation by Tom Rue, Ethan Weishaar and Michael Lovan. From there, the duo start to trade off on lead, with Weishaar tackling the haunting “Slow Down” and Wistrand steering the country-tinged “Wake up, Hazy.”

The Host Country has truly found themselves with their self-titled album. It perfectly captures their style and strengths and is one of the stronger Iowa releases this year. ♦

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