Remembering Mutations, Beck’s eclectic prophecy for the future of indie rock

Wanna feel old? Beck’s Mutations was released today in 1998. Yup. The 12-track record which spanned hundreds of contemplative themes and about a thousand genres is well and truly over the hill when it comes to having a beer, buying darts and enrolling to vote.

If you’re anything like me, being six years old when the record was first released, you may have become a little more familiar with Beck in your early teen years thanks to a lovely lady named Alexandra Patsava courtesy of The O.C. Soundtrack.

But years before we were introduced to indie rock by way of Orange County, Beck was gearing up to release his highly anticipated follow up record to the Grammy-winning Odelay, which by all accounts was a complete manifestation of his self-doubt.

beck mutations anniversary

Cast upon a backdrop of indie music’s baby steps, Beck unleashed Mutations to a world who would come to love it as their golden child.

Produced by Nigel Godrich, who’d previously worked on a record you might have heard of called OK! Computer by a band you may have heard of named Radiohead, who are totally just a poor man’s Coldplay… the record was a critical success, receiving the proverbial two thumbs up from pretty much all who matter; Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Happy Mag (19 years later).

The tracklist of this record bounces manically from genre to genre, from folk ballads, psychedelic rock, country, blues and bossa nova, which I just googled and is Brazilian music derived from samba. Exciting stuff!

For the length of the album there’s a constant shift in pace, rhythm and emotion but it’s not jarring, it’s melodic and well-timed and really really nice to listen to. 19 years on, it’s like this music hasn’t aged a goddamn day. You look great Mutations, you must eat right and gym often.

Released five years before The O.C. took over our screens (and our hearts), and approximately the same amount of years before I entered my angsty, wear-only-black, ‘Nobody’s Fault But My Own’ years. Mutations was as at home in your late ’90s Discman as it would have been as the backtrack to a Ryan/Marissa makeout scene.

Listening back, the hearty trumpet solo and slightly eery electrical organ in O Maria is an unbelievably nice combo. I think it might be time for me to go back and listen to every Beck album ever. Golden Feelings here we come, right back where we started from.


Beck will be returning to Australia for the first time in five years for the inaugural Sydney City Limits Music Festival, taking place at Centennial Park on February 24.

Tickets are on sale now. Grab yours here.