Beck’s “Guero” sounds a little bit like deja vu, and a whole lot deconstruction.

But nearly a decade after fusing acoustic guitar riffs with scratching turntables and drum samples on “Odelay,” the gangly kid from Los Angeles who took up cut-and-past music making and called it his own hasn’t lost his effectiveness.

Reuniting with the Dust Brothers on “Guero” – Spanish for “white boy” – the album continues Beck’s melting pot mix of rap, funk, folk and rock. While the approach could lead to a rehashing of that sound, instead, Beck has discovered something fresh in all that he has done before.

The pseudo-dance tracks “Hell Yes” and “Girl” revisit the mood of 1999’s “Midnight Vultures,” a highly produced album that critics panned for its neon-light contrast to the Beck everyone knew. But these songs are more perfected and less absurd.

And while Beck once sang – or better yet, rapped – about getting crazy with cheese whiz, “Guero” finds him singing about matters seemingly too serious for a someone who has posed with an acoustic guitar while wearing a gas mask.

“It’s a little too much to ask of faith. It’s a little late to wait for fate. So tell the angels what you seen, a scarecrow shadow on a Nazarene,” Beck sings on “Emergency Exit,” a loping hymn that stews in video game sound effects with an emotive chorus and jarring acoustic guitar.

Coming on the heels of 2002’s “Seachange,” a somber acoustic album of mellow, even depressing songs, some may wonder whether “Guero” is meant to rekindle past glories amid slipping sales and unfavorable criticism.

Maybe. But what critics loved about “Odelay” was the postmodern disregard for structure. What separates “Guero” from that is Beck’s maturity now: what he sings about and how he does it.

– Ryan Lenz, AP Writer
Slunt
“Get A Load Of This”

The immediately insignificant band Slunt has released its debut album, “Get A Load of This,” full of brass and bluster, but plenty short on ingenuity or anything of substance to offer the listening public.

It’s easy to sour on a band whose lead singer Abby “Abbylicious” Gennet appears to have spent more time primping for the pages of Stuff magazine than working on her vocals. She sounds like a pretty girl who wishes she was the talented lead singer of a hard rock band. And the album is the unfortunate proof that she is indeed that girl.

Hackneyed, staccato guitar stabs lace tracks like “OK OK” and “Hawg,” as Gennet huffs on the latter track, “That’s the last time you’ll ever taste me on your lips,” a song about a tough breakup and the physical dynamics that keep troubled couples together.

The unraveling begins with Gannet’s faux-tough rock voice. There’s not an ounce of sincerity as she sings, mostly, about sex. Her contrived groans sound like she sat in a studio chair and oozed them without another musician in sight.

For that matter, all Slunt’s musical parts sound disparate, and nowhere near as cohesive as a band should be.

Drummer Charles Ruggiero should consider hooking up with a better outfit. His strong work here easily outclasses his bandmates and it would be a shame for his skills to dwindle away with Slunt’s future, based on this album.

– Ron Harris, AP Writer


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