Taking Off into “Hyperspace” with Beck’s Latest Album

On November 22, 2019, Beck released his fourteenth studio album, “Hyperspace.” Although he first began releasing music in the early 1990s, Beck continues to produce new works that experiment with different genres and that transcend strict genre lines.

After Beck’s thirteenth album, “Colors,” and its corresponding tour, Beck took advantage of the momentum of this production, and he immediately launched into a new project. Around the same time, Pharrell Williams asked Beck to collaborate on a new album for his band, N.E.R.D. Their collaboration resulted in a complete body of work—the “Hyperspace” album.

From the several decades spanning his musical career, Beck is most notably known to create alternative rock, anti-folk, and electro-funk music. Yet, throughout the span of his many albums, Beck’s music remains experimental and is not restrained by a single genre. In 1994, his single “Loser” topped the charts and catapulted him into fame. In contrast to this first hit—which is full of irony and gritty mixes—“Hyperspace” is characterized by a light and gentle nature that evokes his 2014 album, “Morning Phase.” However, this latest release features a new sense of positivity and hopefulness.

“Hyperspace” begins with “Hyperlife,” a brief, almost completely instrumental track that introduces the album’s distinct sound. This song is full of surrealist elements, and the progression within the track itself creates gentle waves that welcome the listener to the album. Next, as the album glides into “Uneventful Days,” Beck brings a spacey, yet minimalist take on a mundane lifestyle. Written and produced with Pharrell Williams, this song is enchanting and intoxicating as its light hip-hop beats gently place their hooks into the listener.

In between “Uneventful Days” and “Die Waiting”—my personal favorite track off the album, is Beck’s single, “Saw Lightning.” While this song is a successful pop song that returns to some of Beck’s more iconic acoustic elements, it sticks out like a sore thumb in the overall environment of the album’s more spacey and synth-pop characteristics. Yet, “Die Waiting” offers a much more cohesive and relaxed pop track full of gentle vocals and captivating lo-fi beats. This track also features Sky Ferreira whose voice lends an ethereal harmony alongside Beck’s vocals.

As the titular track, “Hyperspace” reaches a climax at the midpoint of the album. The track slowly crescendos into the chorus, and Beck’s explorations of time and space are the most obvious in this song as these topics are both reflected in the lyrics and instrumentals. While the song may be less than three minutes long, this song, which also features Terrell Hines, courses through soft vocalizations and reaches up to Beck’s stylized rapping. This song takes the listener on a journey through the space-time continuum and concludes: “In hyperspace, spend all my nights and all my days with you”—finally fully addressing the subtly referenced relationships that are present throughout the album.   

As another stand out track, “Stratosphere” well deserves attention. On the album, “Stratosphere” is the lone song on which Beck is the sole writer and producer. As a more minimalist song, this track—immediately after “Hyperspace” in the tracklist—brings the listener back down to earth in an incredibly intimate and stripped back manner. With delicate waves and indulgent vocals, “Stratosphere” successfully marks the transitory place between the skies and the earth.

Then, as the album concludes with “Everlasting Nothing,” the listener, alongside Beck, is able to look back at the vast expanse of space—both horrific and inspiring. Through this imagery, we are encouraged to reflect upon our own choices. Ultimately, Beck leaves us with the message that somehow, everything will all work out in the end. This track offers an effective conclusion to the album, and as it fades away, “Hyperspace” reaches a complete resolution—all conflicts and previous turmoil have been addressed and tied away neatly.

From the album, my favorite tracks are:

  • “Uneventful Days”
  • “Die Waiting”
  • “Star”

Some of my favorite lyrics from “Hyperspace” are:

  • “A sudden change in everything / Don’t know when I was leaving feeling well and free / You find love just a fantasy / Beautiful and ugly as a life can be” – Chemical
  • “Coming out of the sun, you know I’m bound to meet you / Coming out of my mind, you know I’m dying to reach you” – See Through
  • “Been so lonely / So unholy / Make me feel free / Come and let me down slow” – Dark Places

Overall, this album is a gorgeous exploration of time, space, and the connections that tie people together through both love and heartbreak.

If you’re looking for other artists similar to Beck, I would recommend listening to: Cage the Elephant, Tame Impala, Spoon, Wilco, and LCD Soundsystem.

As for a rating for the album, I give “Hyperspace” 4.5/5 stars.

Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3