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Beck: Guero ****

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BECK: Guero
(Courtesy of SF Weekly)

If Beck has long defied labels, his chameleonic ways leading him from acid-soaked folk to ambitious fusions of hip-hop, synth-pop and blue-eyed funk, Guero finds the versatile balladeer revisiting the two-turntables-and-a-microphone style of 1996’s Odelay, with typically assured results. Wisely, he never allows his trademark genre hopping to stand in the way of a simple melody: “Missing” infuses smoothly seductive salsa with lush orchestration, while “Girl” and “Rental Car” deftly mix propulsive Dust Brothers beats with slide-guitar blues and psychedelic pop, but Beck doesn’t stray far from the robust, hook-laden bass riffs that drive this latest effort. By now, it’s familiar territory for a performer who rarely misses a step, even if Guero lacks the soaring climaxes of Midnite Vultures and the disarming intimacy of Sea Change.

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