Been a good minute since I’ve listened to this one, and for good reason.
Beck’s “E-Pro,” the first single off his ninth studio release, Guero, brought me closer to a person outside of my family than I had ever been. It led to more than half a decade of rubber banding: unhealthy waffling, the back-and-forth that happens when two people can’t remember how to love one another like they once did.
The bond forged that night in a Blockbuster parking light was built on a mutual appreciation of one Beck Hansen. It’s a strange and uncomfortable memory now, all these years later, one that I don’t like revisiting.
But there is an inescapable power in the music that served as the soundtrack to periods in one’s life they no longer care to revisit – even if the memories are visceral.
Guero comes a full three years after its predecessor, 2002’s Sea Change. It’s a stark departure from that record’s adherence to moody, slow-moving orchestrally minded/acoustic-driven songs. It’s somewhere in between a strange experimental electro-pop album and whatever Beck does to make his albums sound dusty and Southern.
Case in point: the second track on the album, “Qué Onda Guero.” Qué onda guero translates roughly to “What up, whitey?”, and that about surmises the song. Beck has always had a sense of humor with his music, reveling in its avant-garde tendencies, and this record is no different.
Side B of Guero lacks much of the identity of its counterpart. Actually, let me qualify that: it’s a different identity. It’s grittier, more subversive and mature in comparison to its rambunctious older sibling.
This album also spawned my favorite remix album, Guerolito – which is saying a lot, considering just how much I loathe remixes in general (a lot). Some of the remixed versions even stack up to the originals; see: “Ghettochip Malfunction,” a masterful reworking of the otherwise sorta pedestrian but still enjoyable “Hell Yes.”
I’m going to leave with the lyrics to “Broken Drum,” a song that is all too relevant for its own good:
I see you there
Your long black hair
Your eyes just stare
Your mind is turning
You know I’ll laugh
And I won’t take it back
I’ve seen your eyes I know
What you’re thinking
And one by one
We’ll shoot our guns
We’ll have fun
Don’t ever doubt it
And when I say
Fare thee well
My only friend
Oh how the days go
Your setting sun
Your broken drum
Your little drugs
I’ll never forget you
From Beck’s Guero, this is the album’s least quirky (but still gorgeous) cut, “Missing” –
Standout tracks: “E-Pro,” “Qué Onda Guero,” “Missing,” “Hell Yes” and “Farewell Ride”
Weakest track: “Emergency Exit”
RIYL: How music is inextricably tied to your emotions over a person or place or event.