From the Stax-fried greasy horns that power the opening “Sexx Laws” to the falsetto-delivered slow jam of the closing “Debra,” MIDNITE VULTURES is Beck’s blatant funk-soul-brother turn. Having pillaged, plundered, cut, and pasted the scope of American heritage musics throughout his short extraordinary career, the slacker boy-wonder has made a party record to end the millennium, lascivious to the bone, and groove-ing to the core.
Whether he’s blowing up Kool Keith-meets-Kraftwerk beats and rhymes on “Hollywood Freaks,” getting into Prince-ly funky rock on “Peaches & Cream,” or rocking the old-school electro on “Get Real Paid,” this year’s Beck model is more about mixing sci-fi R&B bizness with leather than staring down folk-derived dead ends. But don’t believe he’s forgotten how to masterfully collage his on-going postmodern pursuits into his new fashion–“Peaches & Cream” is self-conscious enough to quote Mississippi Fred McDowell, but as a sly sexy come-on, and repeated lyrics of juke-joint R&B standards help weave a thematic thread throughout MIDNITE VULTURES. Such sharp details help turn Midnite Vultures from a great celebratory mix-tape into one of the finest albums of 1999.