Guero, Beck’s 10th album was released today. It’s a rock album, fitting with the alternating folk, rock pattern he established years ago. I’ve been a huge fan since Odelay was released, so it’s tough for me to just say “yeah, it’s good!” so I’ll break it down by track.
A quick word on the cover art. I think it’s great and it reminds me of my friend Ben’s stuff.
1. E-Pro – This is most blatant, straight up rock song Beck has ever done. It’s way more normal of a song than he usually does, even on Guero. The Dust Brother’s overly timed loops are all over the album, but nowhere is it more evident than on E-Pro. In fact, it feels more like Beck singing on someone else’s track. It’s not bad, but when Beck writes a song this catchy he usually tries to distract the listener a little more. It’s a good thing y-100 is off the air otherwise they’d be playing E-Pro 18 times per hour.
2. Qu? Onda Guero – Beck’s hispanic faux-hop tribute to mariachi bands and a “vegetable man in a vegetable van.” It totally reminds me of Odelay’s “Hot Wax” in it’s placement and it’s pace. Good track, although the chorus oddly translates into “What wave Guero?” Que?
3. Girl – Awesome NES, 8-bit style opening, but he quickly abandons that unless you believe Nintendo is the devil. At least, that’s what I think the song is about. He’s the devil trying to tempt some girl. “I think I’m going to steal her eye” is one of the better serious Beck lyrics.
4. Missing – So far Missing is the worst song on the album. It contains cheesy lines like “I prayed heaven today/would bring its hammer down on me/and pound you out of my head/I can’t think with you in it.” The arrangement seems like a less interesting version of Paper Tiger from Sea Change. Not horrible by any standard, but nothing special here.
5. Black Tambourine – Here is a kick ass track. Even with a chorus that barely gets over the verse, the song has a vibe that sets up a cool guitar part that sounds like it was recorded over a 56K modem.
6. Earthquake Weather – This song gets an automatic thumbs up for the first line, “Space ships can’t tame the jungle.” The chorus is a little cheesy though.
7. Hell Yes – I liked the title as soon as I heard the track list. The song doesn’t disappoint. The chorus sounds like they collaborated with Soundwave of the Decepticons. Hell Yes could have fit in anywhere on Midnight Vultures. It’s defintely one of my favorites from the album.
8. Broken Drum – Beck takes it down a few notches and strums an acoustic guitar at least once or twice. Intentionally uncatchy? Probably. It Guero was a TV dinner, Broken Drum would be the plastic divider between the chicken and the brownie.
9. Scarecrow – I like this one a lot after the first listen. It sounds like a song they’d play during the credits of a Sopranos episode, but not one where they killed someone or Uncle Junior ended the show singing.
10. Go it Alone – Laid back jam that’s perfect for the ten slot on an album.
11. Farewell Ride – Not bad, but this would have been better with a simpler arrangements. Get rid of the drums/claps, mess up the slide guitar a little, and it would have been perfect. The song is about death, but the gloominess of the song feels too manufactured.
12. Rental Car – This one catches you off guard a few times during the song, which is always a plus. I decided I like it as soon the female voice entered the track near the end. It’s a cool ending.
13. Emergency Exit – This has to be the 4th or 5th song on the album containing the word “grave.” Is Beck predicting something? heh. I expected a guitar strummer or a show stopper to close out Guero, since this is how Beck ended Mellow Gold, Odelay, Midnight Vultures, and Sea Change. Instead Emergency Exit sounds like a lot of the other Guero tunes.
That’s the track by track Guero review. Overall, it’s a slick album that finally loosens up a little by the end. The best track is definitely Hell Yes, but I also like Black Tambourine, Qu? Onda Guero, Rental Car, and E-Pro.