This latest collection of tunes from Beck is a magical mystery tour back to the psychedelic sounds of the '60s, with some bossa nova and electronic rock thrown into the mix. Mutations is as unpredictable and enigmatic as its 28-year-old creator, who turned folk on its head with 1994's One Foot in the Grave and got downright funky with 1996's Odelay. At first listen Mutations sounds droning and derivative, but its grooves grow pleasing. “Songs like Cold Brains,” “Lazy Flies,” and “Canceled Check” recall lazy, sarcasm of The Kinks and mid-'60s Beatles. The party is almost ruined with cold, dreary lyrics like “The night is useless, and so are we” and “The exit signs are flashing dead end.” But there's a method to Beck's sadness and by album's end there's actually bluesy, electronic joy on “Sing it Again” and “Static.” It's an uneven affair throughout but Beck somehow makes it work.
John J. Kelly