Since Beck Hansen first dropped "Loser," it's been both a pleasure and a pain to watch the eccentric musician evolve. From the album-as-fart-joke aesthetic of 1994's Stereopathetic Soul Manure to the Berlin Bowie sheen of 1998's Mutations and the barrio mystique of last year's Guero, Beck has all but refused to repeat himself, delivering an uneven, unpredictable catalogue that's as maddening as it is magical. With The Information, produced by Nigel Godrich, the hipster iconoclast seems to have finally reconciled his inner B-boy with his inner beatnik, and his art-school pretensions with heartfelt inventions. Lead single "Cellphone's Dead" borrows a syncopated bass line from Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" while the 36-year-old drops coffeehouse verses and mellifluous choruses. Godrich brings out Beck's paranoid android on the title track, allowing room for the funk and the fear, while "1000BPM" boasts the slacker rapper's best lyrical flow since "Beercan." Deftly balancing the shallow irony of Midnite Vultures and the leaden seriousness of Sea Change, The Information is the mature, complex record we all knew he had in him.


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