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SINGLED OUT

Beck keeps it catchy, dynamic and fun

August 21, 2007|Richard Cromelin

Beck

"Timebomb"

(Interscope)

As an image for these days of uncertainty, a time bomb might be at least as relevant as, say, an umbrella. With today's release of Beck's new single, both devices are now part of the summer pop vocabulary, and he has as much fun with his toy as Rihanna does, in a different way, with hers. She goes, "ella, ella, ella," he says, "tick tick tick tick."

The latter is inherently more ominous, but the recording's apocalyptic undercurrent is balanced by a mighty urge to rock, a duality embodied in lines such as:

We got a red alert

We cut the power and we

Na na na na

It's a ridiculously dynamic single, Devo-like in its embrace of dumb fundamentals and the mocking tone of Beck's voice. There's also a Prince-ly swagger in its synth-rock propulsion, but the parade of surprises in the shifting textures and colors is pure, prime Beck.

"Timebomb" comes out today on iTunes and next Tuesday at other digital retailers, and it's billed as Beck's only planned release at this time. Unencumbered by promotional ties, it reflects a welcome ability to simply catch a moment and put it out there.

It might be too late to qualify as the single of the summer, but it's a perfect tonic before the fall.

-- Richard Cromelin

Singled Out is a periodic feature looking at new singles, album tracks or other noteworthy individual recordings.

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