Acclaimed Albums – Mellow Gold by Beck

List item: Listen to the 1000 Most Acclaimed Albums
Progress: 324/1000
Title: Mellow Gold
Artist: Beck
Year: 1994

Mellow Gold has always been on the lower tier of Beck albums for me, so have ended up listening to Guero, Sea Change, Modern Guilt and Mutations. I know that two of those four will be subject of posts in the coming years, but I like to go chronologically where I can. Also it has been 13 years since I last listened to the album from beginning to end, so it’s time to go back again.

Given the extended time, it’s fair to say that 18 year old me did not like this album on the first listen and rejected it outright. Well, 18 year old is an idiot. Mellow Gold is a great album and it really helps you properly contextualize Odelay. A lot of the music he’s made later in his career has a lot more of an electronic influence or goes slow – which really makes Odelay stand out as a bit of an anomaly. 

The big weakness of Mellow Gold is that it starts with its best foot forward. ‘Loser’ is one of those songs that was iconic for its generation and it remains as one of the best tracks that Beck has ever released. As such, the album has to come down a little bit after that – but it’s not too far of a drop at all. 

Mellow Gold, much like Odelay, feels like young Beck as he began to learn where to apply polish to his music. He isn’t the typical white male musician with a guitar, sure he brings in some influences from rock and alternative rock – but there are elements of distortion and hip-hop that he is playing around with that screams this being an album of a young artist just experimenting with all that they know.

This is not going to overthrow my top Beck albums mainly because they have at least a decade of plays and they are closer to the music I like, however I am completely turned around on this album. There are times where I want a harsher album, but still want a singer I really know well. Mellow Gold might help scratch that itch when it next emerges – and it means I can get back to singing along to ‘Loser’.

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