Review: Calexico – The Thread That Keeps Us

On January 26, the long-awaited and previously unreleased recording by the duo Calexico – an explosive combo formed by the unmistakable voice of Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino came out. A disc conceived in Northern California, in a huge house built from debris and lumber recovered from a shipyard called Panoramic House (which was instantly nicknamed “The Ghost Ship“). Co-produced by Craig Schumacher, the album unfolds elegantly, in between a few potholes along the highway, as is normal for crossover music that lies somewhere between indie-rock, country and a fair bit of border nostalgia. Starting with the chosen opening single “End of the world with you“, which starts like a hit by The Ark and rattles off somewhere between U2 and Arcade Fire. Their little touch of magic has always been their ability to combine rural melodies, and enveloping texts with an intra-generational flavour. We could be in the 90s, or catapulted back a few years before that, and we wouldn’t sense any difference. But the pleasure? Well, that remains.

Voices in the field” sinks its claws in an incautious mood, with Depeche Mode‘s “Hole to Feed,” reverb and the voice, which you should note well, nods into the low registers of histrionic Dave Gahan. “Bridge to Nowhere” starts with energetic, pointed and melancholy guitars, with lyrics about a broken heart somewhat reminiscent of Kate Bush’s poems in “Never Be Mine“. A lot of resources have been put into play by the band, as if they’re trying to justify the dearth of brilliant ideas. It’s here that “Spinball” opens up with the mystery of a suspense that can’t be disregarded. Offering snippets from road movies with esoteric scores that quickly fascinate. A miserable instrumental that ends up in an estuary is the track “Under the wheels“, with its semi reggae mid-tempo, it’s a song so stricken by emotion that it’s immediately forgettable.


When it comes to “The town and Miss lOrraine“, the group brings delicate storytelling into play, full of the sea and stories about captains, with a bland arrangement that borders on an airy feel. This is so soft that you feel the desire to look out of the window and ask if it’s really 2018. In “Flores y tamales,” the powerful Mexican dance roots come back to the surface with an arrogant partying. The genre-contaminating band’s DNA stops for a moment in an attempt to reclaim the bones of its own skeleton. It leaves you dancing and falling in love with its soul, but inexorably slips away. To reclaim their place in the crazy music industry, “Another space” (a sister of”Reflektor”, once again by Arcade Fire) intervenes. The rhythmic aura embraces the musical scansion of the house of Lionel Richie, with accented shades of Peter Gabriel, in which the refrain gets stuck (without much success) to the quicksand of the lyrics: “In another time, in another space, In another way, we’ll get back to this place “. And in view of the result, that sounds more like a threat than a promise.

Unconditional Waltz” is a loose bridle of the wind, with trombones that give the instrumental an incandescent skin of pure marvel. Here it seems that at times Martin Byrne is about to appear, in anticipation of the slow motion rockabilly of “Girl in the forest“, which is like jumping aboard a cabriolet that’s short of gasoline. It lacks any bite, like a quid to relieve you from a quagmire. “Eyes wilde awake” brings to life the band’s post-rock credibility, with a skeleton that’s worthy of Placebo at their best, with similarities to the Pixies’s “Where is my mind” that are overly cumbersome. The narrative tension embraces an interesting melodic line that is totally unpredictable, before rehashing the muscles of a Deff Lepard’s string part from “Dead in the water”.

Thrown into the wild” is probably the most successful part of the project, with a poetic text and its lines, which are halfway between “Take me somewhere nice” by Mogwai and “Snuff” by Slipknot. Despite these unavoidable similarities, they’ve still manage to keep a firm hold on the reins of their own creativity. “Music box” is the philosopher’s stone, perfectly woven with gusto: a meeting of the blues, country and uncontested talent. A track that’s good for the soul and closes a record that, between the gaps and hazards, leaves a good impression of a band that will always have talent on their side as a parachute.


1 End of the world with you
2 Voices in the field
3 Bridge to nowhere
4 Spinball
5 Under the wheels
6 The Town & Miss Lorraine
7 Flores y tamales
8 Another Space
9 Unconditional Waltz
10 Girl in the Forest
11 Eyes Wide Awake
12 Dead in the Water
13 Shortboard
14 Thrown to the Wild
15 Music Box


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