It's arriving a little later than expected, but after a few delays in song selection, Beck now plans to release his new album, Guero, on March 29 — or possibly sooner, to minimize the damage of an Internet leak.
Initially due in October 2004 (see "Oh, Delay! New Beck Album Pushed Back To 2005"), the follow-up to 2002's Sea Change forgoes the melancholy of his last breakup record and finds the Los Angeles native in an upbeat mood with a carefree, stripped-down approach. An unmastered and unfinished version of the record, erroneously titled Ubiquitous, has been floating around online for a few days now.
Produced by Odelay and Midnite Vultures collaborators the Dust Brothers, Guero (Mexican slang for a blond-haired, fair-skinned Caucasian) features 13 tracks that loosely act like a Beck mixtape — evoking the beat-driven material on Odelay, the acoustic tracks of 1998's Mutations and even the bluesy junk-shop textures of 1994's Mellow Gold.
While a definite creative and spiritual link to his '90s records is apparent, the major distinction is in the relaxed manner and noticeable maturity. Guero is Odelay minus the over-caffeinated Moogs and ping-ponging video game bedlam of albums past.
The album kicks off with "E-Pro," the album's first single, which features a beat seemingly jacked from a classic Beastie Boys record with a simple, heavy rock riff and marks a return to the Dadaist rhyming absent on the somber Sea Change.
"Girls" also has radio-playability written all over it. A funky up-tempo jam, the sun-drenched track features "oohs" and "aahs," breezy acoustic guitars and Beck's lithe falsetto. "Hell Yes" features more rhyming and a minimal electro groove, robotic voices and females cooing, "Please enjoy," while Beck maintains, "My beat is correct."
"Que Onda Guero" ("What up, whitey?") is a dead-ringer for vintage Cypress Hill in an East-L.A. barrio with its requisite Spanglish and low-rider beats.
The latter half of the record becomes moodier and psychedelic with songs like the sad, celestial ballad "Broken Drum," the down-tempo "Earthquake Weather," the dusty "Farewell Ride" and the almost trip-hop vibe of "Emergency Exit." The White Stripes' Jack White plays bass on the shuffling and sparse "Go It Alone."
A concept video for "E-Pro" has been shot, and an experimental pixilated video for "Black Tambourine," featuring a connect-the-dots dancing Beck, has also been made, but it's undetermined what that video will be used for.
Tracks recorded that didn't make the final cut, possibly destined to be B-sides, include the distortion-heavy "Novacane"-esque "Chain Reaction," "Gospel" and an unnamed track that sports a riff reminiscent of "Devil's Haircut," only funkier.
Guero track list, according to Beck's publicist:
- "Que Onda Guero"
- "Black Tambourine"
- "Earthquake Weather"
- "Hell Yes"
- "Broken Drum"
- "Go It Alone"
- "Farewell Ride"
- "Rental Car"
- "Emergency Exit"