Even by Beck's standards, this song has some pretty odd lyrics ("She's got the lily-white cavity crazes, she's got a carburetor tied to the moon"). Beck explained to Rolling Stone magazine (February 21, 2008): "Most of the vocals on the record were scratch vocals. We just grew attached to them."
Critics have drawn comparisons between this track and The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows
," particularly the shared use of sampled tape loops and the repeating drum track. Also the instrumental solos on the two songs are very similar.
This samples the drumbeat from Gus Poole's "Hallelujah, Alright, Amen," a funky disco soul track from 1970, and the bluesy sax riff from Joe Thomas' "Venus" (1976). But perhaps the most obscure bit of sampling is the trippy opener with mystery singers rescued from a stack of dusty vinyls. Odelay co-producer Mike Simpson explained in a MusicRadar interview: "I was 'crate digging' in Florida and came up with this super rare record. This family of religious singers had pressed their own record and one of the songs started with that sound. I just thought, 'wow, this is an awesome sample to start with'. It had nothing to do with the musical notes of 'New Pollution,' but it just seemed like a crazy way to start a song.
So I programmed an 808 beat and ran it through a SansAmp guitar distortion box and just tweaked out the 808 drum machine beat and started out with that loop. I don't know how we got from that loop into the groove."
Beck directed the '60s-themed music video, which features a cameo by actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, who would go on to star as Chloe O'Brian on the action TV series 24. Beck took home the prizes for Best Direction In A Video, Best Choreography In A Video, and Best Art Direction In A Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.