Beck

Beck's 2005 Guero album, hailed as the folk-rock-rap-whatever successor to his '96 landmark Odelay, reveled in the artist's usual ironic self-awareness. The title, for one, translates to "white boy," belying a record drizzled in country twang, Mexican slang, grungy hip-hop, orchestral bossa nova and funky electronica. Now out of that mélange comes Guerolito, on which different producers have remixed Guero track by track, offering twists throughout. On "Girl," Octet omits the song's least appealing vocals, which happen to be the hook ("Heeeey! My summer girl"). In their place is a woeful sigh set against a snare that mimics the chuggity-clack-clack-chuggity of, presumably, the lyrics "freight train leaving." John King's "Rental Car" also contains a counterintuitive masterstroke, steamrolling the original song's harpsichord lines, some of the prettiest phrases on Guero, into an indulgent, outer-space synth beat that thumps like a danceable phaser fight. At the bottom of the album is a new tune, "Clap Hands," which teams Beck with those Odelay and Guero accomplices the Dust Brothers -- it's good, clean, unspectacular, booty-wiggling fun, like so much of the other 13 tracks. Guerolito is Beck with the corners rounded, Guero as gel cap: It goes down smoothly and is absorbed quickly, even if a Beck album without the blues doesn't quite feel like the same white boy.
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Sam Elfling