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Sunday, March 20, 2005
It came from east LA
1. Spanish derogatory term for a person of European descent. "Look at that trailer trash guero...what a gringo."
If Beck's Sea Change was a eulogy for the death of a long term relationship, his follow-up, Guero, is the subsequent bender on the streets of East LA. The album is tequila-drenched ode to Griffith Park, unemployment, rebounds from doomed love and shorelines filled with sleeping hobos. It plays like a Beach Boys album recorded after they've all just declared bankruptcy with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse playing back-up. It's a party album set on an abandoned boardwalk.
Take "Rental Car," one of the Guero's last tracks. It's a cheerful 60's pop retread filled with samples that sound like they've been lifted from a soda pop ad circa 1974. The lyrics, on the other hand, tell the tale of a distraught women blazing down I-5 towards the Mexico. Cheery production by the Dust Brothers and metal riffs roll over songs about setting bathrooms on fire, the depths of nostalgic despair and watching the world end from the vantage of the Santa Monica pier.
Musically, Guero's a return to form and sounds like it might have been recorded in the same dank studio as "Mellow Gold." While going backwards is usually a death-null for artists like U2, for Beck it's liberating. Game Boy beeps join Jack White's power cords in his bag of well-worn dime store beats. These tracks aren't going to wind up in a car commercial anytime soon but they'd make a perfect soundtrack for a broad daylight police cash through LA county.
Guero isn't due out until March 29th but it was leaked onto the internet over a month ago. The tracks I've listened to may not be the final cuts but they sounded polished and ready to go.
Also, here's a link to the ASCII-fueled video for "Black Tambourine."