“E-Pro” warns listeners to be cautious with their words. Other isolated lines bid farewell to a friend (the bleak “Broken Drum”), pray for relief after a breakup (“Missing”) and salute the Hispanic culture of East L.A. (the Latin rap “Que Onda Guero”). However …
The latter takes a values-neutral approach to the seedier side of East L.A. life. On “Girl” a man anticipates hanging a young woman (“I’m gonna make her die/Take her where her soul belongs”). The artist comes across as a prophet of doom on the death-obsessed “Farewell Ride,” “Emergency Exit,” “Earthquake Weather” and even the ’60s pop-infused “Rental Car.” “H— Yes” is a profane, cryptic rap that alludes to drugs (“skeleton boys hyped up on purple”) and “idols rewriting their Bibles.” A guy whose life is spiraling south seeks comfort in the bed of his down-and-out girlfriend on “Black Tambourine” (“We’ll shake and rattle our bodies to keep it warm at night”).
Rolling Stone said of this morbid disc, “Lots of graves, lots of devils. Nearly every song has a dead body or two kicking around.” A few bouncy rhythms on Guero (slang for “white guy”) seem odd considering the dreary, ambiguous lyrics inhabiting them. Beck’s latest album is eclectic and artfully done, but a real downer.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.