Not gonna lie, there’s something chilling about reading ‘…with Pharrell’ these days. Possibly because N.E.R.D.’s 2017 album ‘No One Ever Really Dies’ felt to have exhausted his (yes, excellent) iconic percussion, but post the ubiquitousness of playground favourite ’Happy’ his name readily evokes not edgy beats but felt tip-stained jazz hands.
And Beck is a man who you’ve never felt needed anyone to collaborate with. Sure, he’s made use of his Dad’s accomplished orchestral arrangements, and The Dust Brothers didn’t exactly derail his creativity, but if anything’s been a pattern through his work, it’s that he’s a law unto himself.
But then… ‘Saw Lightning’ is a triumph. A pulsating beat that’s heavier than anything he’s released in some time; grit behind his trademark white boy rap; a sense of fun in the chorus that for all ‘Colors’’ playful imagery, it didn’t quite manage. Complete with motifs popping up from across his catalogue - most notably his slide guitar - after these three minutes, it’s as if he’s merely been treading water for the past decade.
And Pharrell… blink and you’ll miss him, tbqhwy. Bring on ‘Hyperspace’.
More like this
Listen to Beck’s take on the 70’s classic now.
A showcase of everything Beck has been, and is.
The original version appeared on last year’s EP, ‘The Story Of Hugo’.
It’s in addition to his now sold-out Brixton Academy show in July.