The word “Guero” is Spanish slang for “white boy.” It is what Beck was known as growing up in a prominently Chicano neighborhood in Los Angeles. He also used it as the title of his new album, released on March 29.
This marks Beck’s second collaboration with the Dust Brothers, the Silver Lake- based producers, whom he worked with on “Odelay.”
On the title track, “Que Onda Guero,” he pays homage to Chicano L.A. life so vividly that one can actually see the “abuelitas with plastic bags” and hear the “mariachi band in the middle of the street.”
Although Beck continues to be wonderfully inventive, “Guero” contains many of the same characteristics as his other albums, and is still what I like to call “totally Beck.”
Let’s start with the artwork, which resembles a freakish late-night cartoon from Japan. It originated from the minds of Kevin Reagan, Marcel Dzama and Beck. Beck’s albums are not only one of a kind for the music, but also for the bizarre images that adorn their covers and leaflets.
Beck’s lyrics have always been phenomenally intricate, and seem to be written in a stream of consciousness fashion, filled with complex metaphors and imagery.
He flows like an experienced rapper, and keeps his fans’ heads bobbing. This is apparent in “E-Pro,” “Hell Yes” and “Girl,” which features a musical mix of pop, hip-hop and Gameboy. Beck’s songs usually consist of an array of fancy instruments and synthesizers, resulting in a stellar musical experience.
“Guero” features memorable cameos from two of today’s pop-culture icons. Actress Christina Ricci plays the role of a Japanese waitress in “Hell Yes,” and White Stripes frontman Jack White plays bass in “Go it Alone.”
You might have heard songs from “Guero” on the ubiquitous teenage drama “The O.C.,” which featured five songs prior to the CD’s release. Now, you know its cool, if it’s on “The OC.”
“Guero” is 50 minutes of pure Beck bliss. The album has the same style that made him famous.