42. Beck, 'Colors'
After the mellow gold sounds of his folk-rock Grammy magnet Morning Phase, Beck's latest pivots into of-the-moment big-box pop music. It's not parody – though the baked old-school flow on the trippy trap track "Wow" is laugh-out-loud funny. Instead, it does something tougher, locating the sublime in the music many love to hate, while connecting its truths to a broader pop history. "Dear Life" nods to both the Beatles and late virtuoso Elliott Smith, and the title track apparently jacked its flow from Melle Mel's "White Lines." And "Dreams" glistens like a John Chamberlain car wreck sculpture: chrome-plated funk with twisted, pitch-shifted vocals and Seventies stadium rock flourishes. It makes mass-market pop science feel positively artisanal. W.H.