Colors was recorded at Greg Kurstin’s Los Angeles studio with Beck and Kurstin playing nearly every instrument themselves between 2013 and 2017.
Beck described the recording process to NME saying “for the first year, we were experimenting and there was a lot of trial and error. I was touring constantly while making it, so I was attempting to bring some of that energy back to the studio, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. ‘Dreams’ was one of the early songs to come along and make me think the idea had legs.”
“Dreams” was released on June 15, 2015 as the lead single from an upcoming album, later announced to be titled Colors. The upbeat track was inspired by MGMT and marked contrast to the somber mood of Beck’s previous album Morning Phase. Beck said at the time, “I was really trying to make something that would be good to play live.” The song was heavily featured on Beats 1, Apple Music’s flagship radio station, with 65 plays in July 2015. “Dreams” was ranked among the best songs of 2015 on annual year‐end lists by Rolling Stone and Billboard.
On June 2, 2016, “Wow” (sometimes stylized as “WOW”) was released as the second single and it was confirmed the new album was scheduled to be released October 21, That release date was later delayed and scrubbed from Beck’s PR site with no explanation given. Beck told KROQ that “Wow” “was completely off the top of my head.
I didn’t write any of it. It was just us fooling around in the studio. I didn’t even mean to release it. I was working on another song and came up with the riff and then I just started freestyling.” “Wow” was included on Billboard’s 100 Best Pop Songs of 2016″ list.
Beck told NME “the rest of the album is probably what exists in the range between ‘Dreams’ at one end and ‘Wow’ at the other. Beck told Rolling Stone, “these are complex songs all trying to do two or three things at once. It’s not retro and not modern. To get everything to sit together so it doesn’t sound like a huge mess was quite an undertaking.”
The music video for “Up All Night” premiered August 9, 2017 at Hollywood’s Arclight Cinemas during an all‐day conference for Capitol Records where it was announced it will be released to the public in the near future and be Colors’ third single. “Up All Night” previously appeared in the video game FIFA ’17 and was used in a commercial for Fossil smartwatches.
Q described “Seventh Heaven” as a “lost ’80s pop classic” and “Dear Life” as “lush Beatles‐like psychedelia spiked with an existential cry‐for‐help for a lyric.” Beck told Q that “Dear Life is just about the inevitable turmoil of being alive. Like, can somebody throw me a lifeline here?” The New York Times previewed that “No Distraction” had “a strummy guitar part over a foursquare rock beat, and a chord progression partly cribbed from the Police” and that “Dear Life” was “a late‐Beatles‐esque existential cry, with a welcome core of oddness within its retro shell.”
Beck discussed “No Distraction” with Q saying, “Anybody who has a phone or computer lives with the distractions pulling you this way and that. We haven’t figured out how to have access to everybody and everything all the time and how it affects us physically and neurologically. Or at least I haven’t. My analogy to friends has been that I feel as if somebody has removed the front door of my house, permanently.”
On July 28, 2017, Beck teased the title of his new album by posting a photo of John Baldessari’s “Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell” on his Instagram account. Beck’s post followed an accidental leak of the title and release date by an online retailer’s private pre‐order page briefly being set to public viewing. On August 11, 2017, Beck officially announced the album would be titled Colors and released in October 2017.