You might say that Beck is somewhat bipolar, as his albums have alternated between being manic and melancholy, experimental and reflective. But this time, Beck is both on Guero, which marks another first for him — his first album as a husband and a father.
"I think your music always reflects things in your life," Beck said. "And with this record, it was reflecting a lot of things I was seeing with my friends and in the world. And I think there was a kind of energy to the record. ... My wife was pregnant from the beginning of making this record, and then when I finished, we had the baby. It was like two babies — one was the album, and one was my son."
That would be Cosimo, his 9-month-old son with Marissa Ribisi (twin sister of actor Giovanni), whom he married about a year ago. Beck doesn't often talk about his private life, and if it's reflected in any way on the madcap Guero, it's that he has a new outlook since the softer Sea Change. "I think Sea Change was something that was building up for a long time," he said of the LP that served as reaction to "strange times" in America, such as September 11. "It just felt like the right reaction to a lot of things, and helped me get to a real simple place with music."
In contrast, Guero is anything but simple — it's all over the place, with guest spots from Christina Ricci ("Hell Yes") and Jack White ("Go it Alone"), digitized power ballads, bossa nova, slide guitar, jungle beats, low-rider street noise and mariachi horns. Even when the songs aren't overtly angry, as is the case with the breezy "Girl," his lyrics suggest a darker undercurrent: "I'm gonna steal her eye/ She doesn't even know what's wrong/ And I know I'm gonna make her die." Beck is quick to add that the anger isn't an empty exercise, citing his first single, "E-Pro," which decries the "twisted tongues" and "talking trash" surrounding him. "It's kind of letting out an intense feeling, and it's looking for some kind of humanity, trying to find something above the anger," he said. "And it's about loud guitars," he laughed.
Guero, though, could have been very different, Beck noted, since the initial version of the album that leaked to the Internet was but a work in progress (see "Finished Version Of That Beck LP You Downloaded Due In March"). Plus, he's got tons of other material he's been sitting on that didn't make the cut.
"I have a lot of things recorded right now, things I've been working on," he said. "I like to keep a lot of different things cooking at the same time. Some are ready, some aren't, some you put over here for a while. So yeah, there will be more music coming soon. There's a lot of music around at my house."