Rhythm & Views


It's not surprising that Beck Hansen's genealogy connects him to the Fluxus movement and Andy Warhol's Factory (through his grandfather and mother, respectively); Beck's music is a continuation of the central ideas associated with both art movements (if you can call Warhol's Factory a movement). Guero, Beck's eighth record, is less kitschy and ridiculous than previous albums, but is not as sprawlingly sad as Sea Change, Guero's most recent predecessor. Sometimes Beck can be sardonic to the point of excess ("Debra," from Midnite Vultures, comes to mind), and while Sea Change was beautiful in its seriousness, at times it didn't sound truly Beck. Guero reconciles these two extreme sides of Beck; its unifying theme, since every Beck record has to have some unique quality that sets it apart from its siblings, is no real theme at all, which allows the record to pull together the myriad facets of Beck's musical tendencies.

"Que Onda Guero" mixes samples and talky lyrics ("Baracho says, 'Que putas? Andelay joto, your popsicle's melting'") to sound like a walk through Echo Park. "Missing" has a bossa nova feel to it, and Beck actually croons over strings. Tambourines are used liberally; there is a tinge of Latin flavor to the record as a whole. Guero's best moments, though, are when Beck pulls out all the stops in one song, combining his crackling metaphors, catchy hooks and folk rhythms with creative production. "Girl," "E-Pro" (which samples the Beastie Boys' "So What'cha Want"), "Earthquake Weather" and "Send a Message to Her" stand out because of this, even among songs that are classic Beck. Guero is, then, Beck not doing anything particularly different, but maintaining each side of his musical personality.