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Beck
Guero
Interscope Records
www.beck.com


I have to tell you, after Beck's last record Sea Change, I had high hopes that we were moving into an era of new, calmer, more songwriting oriented Beck. I am happy to announce that I've been disappointed, and that is not at all the case. Once again tilting his musicality to the left and right in rather haphazard fashion, Beck has put together a record that instantly recalls the glory days of the teenage anthemic O'Delay, while simultaneously drawing listeners in closer for a good bit of frenzied inspection. This new set of songs is at once old-school Latino influenced like much of Beck's early works, yet more mature in sound and creation. The gentle samba of "Missing" is certainly evidence of the ever-enlarging musical conglomerate that exists in Beck's head. Taking a different road than the aforementioned Sea Change, Guero relies more on the big heavy beats and street language that Beck has traditionally thrown at the world. "Que Onda Guero" is a supreme example of the kind of laid-back groove that has made converts of so many to the church of Beck. Oddly tilting keyboard riffs dance over thick beats and Mexican curse words that seep from the noise of the street. "Girl" pushes the keyboards further into your head, mixing in a bit of androgynous guitar with the crisp drums and Beach Boys' harmonies. This is California music at its new century finest, instantly recalling the cool, early mornings of Southern Cali summers. More Beach Boys influence pops out on "Earthquake Weather" and then gets quickly lost behind the LA style breakbeats, scratching, and street rap of "Hell Yes". And you can not argue with that bitchin' vocoder work, either. Freakazoid Robots, anyone? The slow electronic melancholia of "Broken Drum" paints a nice portrait of Beck as the quiet kid who no one ever expected this sort of thing from… It is a beautiful song, and one that is almost out of place on Guero, seeming more a holdover from the brilliant lyricism and folkishness of Sea Change. Grooviness prevails on the near-disco beats of "Scarecrow" and the weirdly seismic techno of "Emergency Exit". This album is pure musical art, and not unwelcome - even to these very un-hip, tired old ears. These songs scream good time music, lacking in so much of the tension that much modern music fills itself with. Looking for lemonade music for your hot summer day? This is it.

-L. Keane

Track Listing:
1. E-Pro
2. Que Onda Guero
3. Girl
4. Missing
5. Black Tambourine
6. Earthquake Weather
7. Hell Yes
8. Broken Drum
9. Scarecrow
10. Go It Alone
11. Farewell Ride
12. Rental Car
13. Emergency Exit


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