Sara Beck is asking a lot of any listener. First they have to get through the unpleasantness of her performing name, Pink Nasty, and then they have to contend with some willfully divergent shifts in style. What Beck offers in return is a compellingly complex aesthetic and some irreverently unfocused but unmistakable talent. On Mold the Gold, she backflips from alt-country to power-pop to indie rock to doo-wop with uncanny agility. While her refusal to align herself with any one genre is admirable, it makes the album somewhat of a mess. It also helps explain why more hasn’t been made of her otherwise strong songwriting and genial yet resonant voice. Will Oldham took notice though bringing Beck along on the tour that resulted in the raucous concert album Summer in the Southeast. Returning the favor with some unusually straightforward appearances, Oldham makes Mold the Gold of keen interest to any of his fans. Anyone still longing for the self-assured strut and sensuality of Matador-era Liz Phair should also take notice. Beck may not have honed her sound into something quite that precise just yet but the raw material is clearly abundant and only awaiting further refinement.
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// Notes from the Road
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