This one’s a no brainer. Beck’s eclectic and eccentric sound is perhaps the most lasting of the post-grunge pop revelations and on his latest, Guero, he’s in full swing with his trademark post-apocalyptic white boy rhymes and stylish beats supplied by longtime collaborators The Dust Brothers.
The album starts in true major-label fashion, with the single and catchiest track, “E-Pro,” which is classically and deceptively lo-fi sounding and sports a Na-Na chorus ready-made for head bobbing. While it should please radio listeners everywhere, it is nowhere near the most interesting song on the album.
“Que Onda Guero,” as close to a title track as we get, is the easy choice for a follow-up single. The song keeps the urban beat of “E-Pro” going, but adds some dialogue, Spanish lyrics and a simple chorus. By the time you get through it, the album should have you hooked if it’s ever going to.
When “Girl” kicks in, it’s faster than the two preceding tracks and more melodic. Its acoustics lead well into “Missing,” which has a classic Sting vibe to the vocals. “Black Tambourine” is a thick basslined album highlight, and flows well into the acoustically reurbanized “Earthquake Weather,” which leads into the even less rural “Hell Yes.”
The second half of the album gets a little tedious, with the exception of “Go It Alone,” whose handclaps bring out a bluesy groove heretofore unseen on the record. There are some trademark Beckian moments on “Broken Drum,” and he shows his love for ’60s psychedelia on “Rental Car,” which is fortunate because that element is very much missing from the rest of the record.
“Emergency Exit” closes out the album on a quiet and not particularly strong note with chain gang rhythm, but overall Guero should have no problem pleasing Beck fans and adding to the well-deserved acclaim he has enjoyed in his decade-plus professional career. Not necessarily a classic, but a strong, solid offering from an artist who has clearly come of age musically.