Beck's new "Guero," due this week via Interscope, reunites him with the Dust Brothers, who produced his best-selling album to date, 1996's "Odelay." Propelled by a sing-along chorus and funky beat (as well as a sample of the Beastie Boys' "So What'cha Want"), first single "E-Pro" is off to Beck's strongest start at radio in years, his first track to hit No. 1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart since the iconic "Loser" in 1994.
The songs on "Guero" sound fresh because Beck created most of them in the studio with the Dust Brothers. "I just go in with some vague idea or no idea at all," Beck says. "You're just putting yourself on the spot on a daily basis."
Now married and with a small son, Beck says making music remains sacred. "At home, there's so much going on all the time," he says. When recording, "the world disappears in a way that only happens in the studio where you're breathing the same oxygen for days on end. Sometimes to really get inside the music and it's flowing out of you, you have to bury yourself alive."
Such vivid imagery is present in "Guero." Upbeat melodies often tangle with downbeat lyrics, as on "Girl," a Beach Boys-reminiscent tune with dark words. "Guero," which loosely translates into "white boy," was a neighborhood name for Beck when he was growing up in primarily Hispanic East Los Angeles. One track, "Que Onda Guero," specifically refers to his past. "There's all these ideas dancing, they're always looking for an opening for the right place to come out," Beck says. "It's one whose time had come."