Reportedly begun by Beck in 2003 with producer Nigel Godrich, The Information (out Tuesday) seems more a natural follow-up to 98's Godrich-tweaked Mutations than to 2002's dreadfully dull Sea Change misstep. Stylistically he's leaning toward a triphop concept, which allows him to show off his rap skills and make use of some funky disco breaks that would've sounded somewhat dated three years ago. Without the bizarre lyrical invention and fuck-shit-up whimsy of his earlier work, Beck's attempts at party jams come off woefully overwrought and flat, making the darker bits interspersed throughout seem intriguing by default. He saves the best for last, closing with a chilling ascent into space that would've made L. Ron Hubbard proud. A full-on musical homage to Battlefield Earth can't be far off.