It's been 5 years since Beck's last "proper" album the excellent "Modern Guilt"; always anticipated, fans expect Beck to drop disruptive bombs of sonic genius into the pop music landscape - it can't be easy. Has he done it this time?
Beck's latest (standalone) single owes more to gently glitched, glacial, post rock than his former beercan, junkyard aesthetic. His transition away from kaleidoscopic, recycling, low-fi, hydrogen jukebox hooks has been punctuated by huge leaps in production quality over the years and a departure lyrically, from the distorted Dylanesque storytelling that made his early music so enjoyable.
After the huge climactic eargasm of "Midnight Vultures" (1999) Beck threw his sampler away and, inspired by Serge Gainsbourg's cult "Histoire de Melody Nelson" album, "Sea Change" showcased a reflective, personal acoustic sound. "Guero" seemed to have a stab at recreating the catchy brilliance of "Odelay", and "The Information" with Nigel Godrich again delivered flashes of brilliance...
Yet Beck continues to deconstruct himself - pehaps it's the mark of a more refined musician?
2010's collaboration with Black Moth Super Rainbow's "main man" Tobacco produced the awesome, low-fi, 8 bit masterpieces "Fresh Hex" and "Grape Aerosmith" - a blast of the "old" Beck powered by Tobacco's ridiculous collection of vintage synths and probably recorded on filthy tape. It's a shame there wasn't more.
Stripped down, subtle, sonic, and unusually hypnotic "I won't be long" is as slyly unassuming as Beck can be - bathed in an amber haze of soft vocals and cool blue reverb Beck's deconstructed chillwave sound climaxes with a maelstrom of deep fried guitar and twisted melody before melting gently away into nothing.
A cleverly dissected cluster of Beck motifs suspended in an alien vacuum? In many ways it's a brilliant piece of music or maybe it isn't quite up-front enough?
Perhaps the 14 minute remix will deliver?
What do you think?
"I wont be long" will be physically released as a 12” single (on audiophile vinyl) with a 14-minute-long remix available here.