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With a sleazy R&B soundtrack and word-salad lyrics, everyone’s favorite loser defies more than “Sexx Laws” (the lead track) on Midnight Vultures, a collection of flamboyant party tunes. Sporting an act that’s both parody and homage, Beck is still the only man who gets away pairing bombastic funk horns with country banjo and pedal-steel guitar in the same song. On “Peaches and Cream,” Beck sings with a farcical falsetto about a hot trick that can “make a garbage man scream.” His melodramatic performance on “Debra” could be a Saturday Night Live skit poking fun at a suburban Prince hanging out at the mall.
The hidden gem is the breathtaking ballad “Beautiful Way,” a meandering, folk-Beck love song. But he cuts up with a few more trashy numbers, talking about “mixing business with leather,” masking any sincerity he presented. Will such profound nonsense spark a cultural revolution? Not really, but Beck genuinely loves the music he’s emulating and creating, as should you.