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When news broke earlier this year that Beck's marriage of nearly 15 years was ending, it seemed a safe bet that a certain kind of album would follow: not the surreal, up-tempo Beck of Odelay, Midnite Vultures or Guero, but something melancholy and ballad-heavy — like his album of the year winner, Morning Phase, or his 2002 breakup opus, Sea Change. Stylistically, Beck remains a musical chameleon of remarkable range and elasticity. But in the course of 13 albums and a quarter-century, even casual listeners have come to recognize the two main modes in which he works.
Hyperspace, his latest, disrupts the pattern, falling into a nebulous space between the two extremes. It is very much a breakup album, navigating themes as devastating as anything on Sea Change — but it is also a clear collaboration with its co-producer, Pharrell Williams, heavy on low-key funk and bright synthesizer tones. In sound alone, many of the songs aren't far off from the glossy bops of Beck's previous album, Colors, which yielded the late-career crossover hits "Up All Night" and "Dreams." But the often aggressive cheeriness of that album is gone, replaced by a dazed numbness most easily parsed as "Wow, this guy is going through something." ~NPR.org