Beck returns with a wacky new hip-hop track, ‘Wow’


Has sad, sensitive Beck left the building?

It was easy to wonder that last year when the singer put out “Dreams,” an up-tempo guitar-pop tune, only months after his lush bummer-folk record “Morning Phase” won a Grammy Award for album of the year.

Now the shift appears definite with Thursday’s release of “Wow,” a wacky new rap track in which Beck rhymes “standing on your lawn doing jiu-jitsu” with “girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini shih tzu.”

Built around a clattering hip-hop beat and a tinny slide-whistle lick, “Wow” recalls the mischievous found-sound approach Beck improbably brought to a mainstream audience 20 years ago with his left-field smash “Odelay.” (The song also shares something with Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”)


And it’s not the only fresh indication that Beck is giving at least a temporary rest to his acoustic-troubadour act.

There’s also “Tiny Cities,” a slick collaboration with the Australian EDM star Flume from the latter’s new album, “Skin,” which came out Friday.

Add in Beck’s appearance on the Michael McDonald-ish “Time Wind,” from M83’s recent “Junk,” and the mournful strummer of “Morning Phase” starts to seem as distant as the merry prankster of “Odelay” did when Beck made his first sad-dude statement with 2002’s “Sea Change.”

Twitter: @mikaelwood