It might feel a little different for him at three in the morning, but to the person at the other end of the speakers Beck never sounds like a man who has ever suffered from writer's block. As 'The Information' shows, however, knowing when to switch off the mic can be a different matter.

Having previously worked with producer Nigel Godrich on his listen-alone album 'Mutations' and 'Sea Change', here Beck collaborates with him on a more eclectic and upbeat collection of songs, but it is one which fails to make the most of its best material.

With 'The Information' Beck has come up with the novel approach of giving fans four sets of stickers so that they can design their own album cover; for the album to work best they then have to design their own tracklisting too.

With 17 songs and clocking in at over an hour, 'The Information' would have benefited from at least five fewer tracks and 20 fewer minutes. From opener 'Elevator Music' up to the fifth song 'Soldier Jane', it's a great Side One of an album. For Side Two you can add 'Dark Star', 'We Dance Alone', 'Movie Theme', 'Nausea' and the title track and dispense with the times when Beck sounds like he's caught in a slump/riffing too much on the familiar/testing patience with studio bells and whistles.

Before the closing two bonus tracks there's a 13-minute triptych, 'Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton' which, while unlikely to feature regularly on your headphones, is a fitting summation of an album that lets the listener's attention wander when it had the power to completely win them over.

Too much information indeed.

Harry Guerin