CD Review of Guerolito by Beck
Label
Geffen/Interscope
Beck: Guerolito

Reviewed by Jeff Giles

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I
t will come as no surprise to the six people who read my reviews on a regular basis that I frequently use lines from “The Simpsons” to describe something, but that is only because they can dissect something so succinctly and with such style that I wish I had thought of it first. The latest theft is from the episode where Moe remodels the bar in an attempt to attract a hipper, richer crowd, and the regulars are confused by the aesthetics:

Moe: It’s Po-Mo!
Homer, Lenny, Carl, Barney: (stare blankly at Moe)
Moe: You know, post-modern!
Homer, Lenny, Carl, Barney: (stare blankly at Moe)
Moe: All right, weird for the sake of being weird.

And that is what we have here. Beck’s Guerolito, a remixed edition of his superb Guero album from earlier this year, probably gets a kick out of how truly weird it is, but it’s not weirdness that made Guero so likable. It was the fact that all of these seemingly disparate ideas came together and made such wonderful, goofy sense as a whole. Guerolito, on the other hand, is just weird for the sake of being weird, with only a handful of the remixers paying any respect to Beck’s original creations.

You can count on Air to get it right, though. “Heaven Hammer,” a remix of the spooky “Missing,” is taken out of its Spanish guitar setting and dropped into Moog heaven, but the integrity of the track is intact. Beastie Boy Adrock, meanwhile, takes “Black Tambourine” for a funky spin that is like the hip hop equivalent of a William Orbit remix. Even 8Bit’s oddball remix of “Hell Yes,” has its charms, though the streamlined drum beat seems flat compared to the syncopated beat of the original.

And then there’s the Islands remix of “Que Onda Guero,” which is just loopy. Slowing down to a snail’s pace in the middle break, and then abruptly abandoning the idea with about 30 seconds left to go, perhaps the mix would make more sense if the listener were under the influence of a hallucinogenic. Octet’s treatment of “Girl,” meanwhile, sounds like one of Aphex Twin’s dreams slowly turning into a nightmare; it’s pretty, if cold, one minute and menacing the next, stripping the song of its sunny pop core along the way. “Rental Car” gets similar treatment; the Esquivel-esque female ‘la la la’ bit is here, but the Mamas & Papas-style dark beauty is replaced with a bank of synthesizers, which would be okay if the beat track weren’t so weak.

Beck fans will likely go along for the ride on Guerolito, since to be a fan of Beck is to expect, and embrace, the unexpected. For the rest who are cautiously curious, give them a spin on iTunes. Diving in head first is not for the faint of heart.

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