At the end of 2013 Beck said in numerous interviews he was planning to release two albums in 2014. Mellow Morning Phase would come first, the sort of reflective record that reveals itself best though introverted listening in solitude. Its lively follow-up, as Beck described it at the time, would take an opposite approach:
“I do want to put out something that is a lot more up, and energetic, and melodic.”
-Beck to Clash
“I’m thinking more about the live show, which is more about energy. It’s a lot more up.”
-Beck to Uncut
“It’s still in flux. I’m thinking about the live show, a certain energy. That’s a whole other kind of writing – and difficult to do. You’re writing for a studio environment that is the antithesis of where the song is going to live.”
-Beck to Rolling Stone
As you probably know, that first album was released to great acclaim (and now Morning Phase is positioned to make a big splash at the Grammys). However the second – the lively one – is still unreleased. Understandably so: Beck played his most shows since 2000 last year, released a compilation of recordings of songs from his Song Reader book, and teamed with Sia to sing for little orphan Annie. Dude was busy.
Regardless, speculation persisted that the second album was coming in 2014 and Pharrell’s involvement was rumored last winter. Soon after Beck confirmed they met up, but cast a huge shadow of doubt over any chance of Pharrell being on his next LP. “I don’t know where that [collaboration with Pharrell] came out [to the press],” Beck admitted to fasterlouder.com. “I don’t remember ever talking about that.” In fact it was Jenny Eliscu’s Billboard cover story about Beck last February that broke news of his next record being pieced together “with a series of high-profile collaborators, including Pharrell Williams.” Afterwards Beck confirmed those sessions in both Time magazine – on the “10 Questions” page of the March 31, 2014 issue, revealing he worked with Pharrell “about a year ago” – and with fasterlouder.com. “We met up around the end of 2012,” he told the latter. “I’d always wanted to work with him since the mid-’90s when I heard the first Neptunes stuff so probably ‘97, ‘98. I was working on Midnite Vultures and I remember saying that the next record I wanted to work with the Neptunes and Timbaland. Then I met Timbaland in ‘99 when Midnite Vultures came out. We hung out and did a song for a soundtrack [‘a cover of David Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’ for Moulin Rouge in 2001]. I’d planned to do a record with him but I think I needed to take some time off and then he did that album with Justin Timberlake [2002’s Justified and he went right off into the pop world. I felt like I’d missed my moment working with those people. I probably could have done it when they were on their ascent but it got to the point were I wouldn’t. It was a good time to meet up with [Pharrell] but I don’t think that [it will happen] the success in the last year just happened. So I don’t know if that will happen now because he’ll probably be busy for the next decade or so. [laughs] Maybe we’ll do something in 2024.”
Beck continued to discuss the second album throughout early 2014, but hasn’t mentioned much since he played KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” last April. “I’ve been working on and off on a different set of songs – they’re more boisterous [than ‘Morning Phase’],” he said. “You’re screwed with any kind of adjective, but hopefully we’ll get it out this year.“
So will this still unreleased “boisterous” LP finally come out in 2015?
It seems so, and relatively soon.
Beck has been announced as the headliner of Hangout Music Festival and Boston Calling Music Fest. He’s also booked elsewhere around the world: Norway’s Øya Festival, Sweden’s Way Out West, Finland’s Flow Festival. It stands to reason that the guy who said he was working on a “boisterous” album specifically for his live show would release said album prior headlining festivals around the world.
Sure enough, Øya’s website posted earlier this week that Beck “is currently working on a new album which will be out before the summer” (as pointed out on stewoo.net and the whiskeyclone.net facebook group). It’s presumably the record originally slated as the second of 2014 that’s being referred to as Beck’s “new album.” Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though: there is no release date for Beck’s next album, and no confirmed details.
Øya’s website has removed any mention of a future Beck album. Additionally, in a February 7, 2015 interview on the red carpet of the pre-Grammys Gala Beck admitted, “the optimist says [the new record is] about 70 per cent [finished] and then the realist says about 35 [per cent].” Watch below:
After winning big at the Grammys, Beck again mentioned the sessions with Pharrell, telling Dave Basner of VH1 Radio Network, “I did some songs with Pharrell a couple of years ago. We were going to maybe do a record, so I have a lot of things that are mid-way or just started.” There’s still doubt Beck and Pharrell will be able to finish their collaboration. Said Beck, “I think [Pharrell] is a little busy, but we did some good things.”
Beck again reiterated that schedule conflicts have prevented the completion of the tracks with Pharrell to Alt 98.7 in June 2015. “I worked with him a few years ago,” Beck said. “Right before the Daft Punk record came out, maybe six months before that, and understandably I think he just got busy. He’s had his plate full for a while so we never got to finish that body of songs but we did work together and it was great. You know I’ve been running into him for years and wanting to work with him forever.”