Odelay is the second official studio album by American Alternative Rock artist Beck, released in June 1996 by Bong Load Records (in conjunction with DGC Records in the US and Geffen Records abroad). It was produced in part by the Dust Brothers, who also worked on the classic Beastie Boys album Paul's Boutique, and many similarities can be seen between the two, almost to the point where Odelay can be summed up as "the alt-rock version of Paul's Boutique".
The album further established, and even accentuated, Beck's eclectic mix of hip-hop, rock, folk, country, and soul, among other genres. Producing several singles ("New Pollution", "Where It's At", and "Devils Haircut", for example) that became favorites on Alternative Indie radio as well as MTV, Odelay proved after Mellow Gold and "Loser" that Beck wasn't a One-Hit Wonder.
The album peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200, eventually selling over 2 million copies in the US, and served as Beck's first hit album in the UK, reaching #17. Odelay won two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance ("Where It's At"), and was also up for the Album of the Year award.
- "Devils Haircut" - 3:14
- "Hotwax" - 3:49
- "Lord Only Knows" - 4:14
- "The New Pollution" - 3:39
- "Derelict" - 4:12
- "Novacane" - 4:37
- "Jack-Ass" - 4:11
- "Where It's At" - 5:30
- "Minus" - 2:32
- "Sissyneck" - 3:52
- "Readymade" - 2:37
- "High 5 (Rock the Catskills)" - 4:10
- "Ramshackle" - 7:29
Two trope-tables and a microphone:
- Album Title Drop: "Lord Only Knows", where it might be a built-in mondegreen of the Spanish "orale":Yeah, odelay odelay odelay odelay
Just passin' through
Odelay odelay odelay odelay
Goin' back to Houston, do the hot dog dance
Goin' back to Houston to get me some pants.
- Broken Record: The phrase "I got two turntables and a microphone" gets repeated by a distorted voice in the background of "Where It's At", in an increasingly louder manner until it's just filtered through as fuzzy noise.
- Call-Back: At one point in "High 5 (Rock the Catskills)", a part near the end of "Novacane" plays again before one of the sampled rappers tells someone to "turn that shit off, man!"
- Careful with That Axe: Throughout the album, more often than not distorted and compressed.
- "Lord Only Knows" starts with a hearty scream that's either horrifying or hilarious.
- The end of "Minus", accompanying the collapsing guitar section.
- The end of "Sissyneck".
- The chorus of "Hotwax" has some extremely distorted shouting of the lyrics in the background.
- "Where It's At" has a startling distorted shriek at around the midway point.
- Coolest Club Ever: He wouldn't call it "Where It's At" for no reason, right?
- Death Is Not Permanent: Seemingly alluded to in "Readymade":An open road where I can breathe
Where the lowest low is calling to me
I can pull myself back up, back down
Stuck together like a ready-made
And my bags are waiting in the next life
- Either/Or Title: "High 5 (Rock the Catskills)"
- Excrement Statement: "Minus":Don't be confused
When the fuse is up
And you're taking a leak
Into your brother's cup
- Fake Loud: The distorted screams in tracks such as "Minus" and even in "Novacane" don't actually get much louder thanks to all the heavy production, but they do sound unnerving.
- Femme Fatale: The unknown "she" at the center of "The New Pollution" sounds like one.
- Genre Mashup: The album features rock, folk, and country-influenced songs with hip-hop style production.
- Good Ol' Boy: "Sissyneck"I got a stolen wife and a rhinestone life and some good old boys
I'm writing my will on a three-dollar bill in the evening time.
- Gratuitous Spanish: The chorus of "Hotwax".Yo soy un disco quebradotranslation
Yo tengo chicle en mi cerebro.translation
- Hidden Track: The distorted outro after the silence in "Ramshackle" is called "Computer Rock".
- Last Note Nightmare: The hidden track "Computer Rock" at the end of the album, as well as the noise freakout at the end of "Novacane" and the scream at the end of "Sissyneck".
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to Mellow Gold, this album is, for the most part, a lot more accessible and lighthearted, with more of a party feel to it. This almost wasn't the case, as some of the earliest material he recorded before he decided to work with the Dust Brothers was far more depressing and acoustic themed - of these songs, only "Ramshackle" made it onto the record proper, though "Brother" and "Feather in Your Cap" were included as bonus tracks on the deluxe edition.
- Mood Whiplash: After every heavy song, a usually softer, more melodic song follows; "Jack-Ass" follows "Novacane", "Sissyneck" follows "Minus", and "Ramshackle" follows "High 5". Probably done on purpose.
- Mundane Made Awesome: All we know about the place in "Where It's At" is that it's got "bottles and cans" as well as "two turntables and a microphone", all pretty commonplace in bars and clubs. Beck still makes it sound exciting.
- One-Word Title: "Hotwax", "Derelict", "Novacane", "Minus", "Sissyneck", "Readymade", and "Ramshackle".
- The Plague: The imagery in "Devils Haircut" - "rotten oasis", leprosy, nosebleeds - certainly sounds none-too-healthy.
- Precious Puppy: The "flying mop" on the cover is a dog: a Komondor, to be precise (a breed whose long coat is usually allowed to mat into ropey cords).
- Rated M for Manly: "Hotwax", which seems to be about how Beck wants to prove himself by putting himself out there. At the end, he morphs into an "enchanting wizard of rhythm" to tell kids about "the rhythms of the universe".
- Sampling: Lots, including the educational record "Sex for Teens" on "Where It's At" and MC5's "I Can Only Give You Everything" on "Devils Haircut".
- Self-Backing Vocalist: The chorus from "Where It's At".
- Special Guest:
- Legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden plays on "Ramshackle".note
- Mary-Lyn Rajskub appeared in the video for "The New Pollution", albeit several years before her role in 24.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Lord Only Knows", "Sissyneck", "Derelict", "Jackass", "Readymade" and "Ramshackle" are pretty soft compared to the compressed Fake Loud tracks.
- Teenage Wasteland: The girl in "The New Pollution" seems to really get around. The song itself could be a crypted critique of the hedonism within teenage culture.She's got cigarette on each arm
She's got the lily-white cavity crazes
She's got a carburetor tied to the moon
Pink eyes looking to the food of the ages
She's alone in the new pollution
- Word Salad Lyrics: Kind of a Beck specialty, there are enough on this album to spark a thousand debates over what the lyrics mean. The man himself lampshadeed it while Adam Westing in the Futurama episode "Bendin' In The Wind.""When I'm upset, I write a song about it, like when I wrote 'Devil's Haircut,' I was feeling really... Beat... what's that song about?"