For the follow-up to 2002’s melancholic Sea Change, Beck reunited with Odelay producers the Dust Brothers on a collection of guitar-heavy songs with party-friendly hip-hop beats. “There was a lot more freedom on this record,” Beck says of Guero (Spanish slang for “white boy”). “I even attempted a couple of rap things, which I didn’t think I was gonna do.” The first single, “E-Pro,” is a ragged, foot-stomping rocker that uses the drum sample from the Beastie Boys‘ “So What’cha Want,” and “Que Onda Guero” evokes an East L.A. neighborhood with mariachi horns and street noise. Jack White sits in on bass on the sparse, bluesy “Go It Alone,” just one of a number of tracks Beck recorded with the White Stripes frontman — expect more collaborations from the pair in the future.
But Guero isn’t just Odelay redux. Uptempo tracks like “Girl” are tempered with somber, even morbid lyrics. “Some Beatles songs are pretty dark,” says Beck. “Or Brian Wilson‘s. Some of the cheeriest songs have that undercurrent.”
This story is from the March 10th, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone.