Sep 11, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
Algiers is the latest in a long line of unperturbedly consistent Calexico records, the same ones that score the imaginary hip gas stations in the Cormac-McCarthy-by-way-of-Wes-Anderson southwestern border towns of the mind. And while there's nothing remarkably out of step with what they've done before, Calexico trade on their strengths in the "well-worn shoe" tradition of bands like AC/DC or Red House Painters-the same old thing as an irreplaceable standby. When the same old thing is this comfortable and contoured to your movements, it makes you wonder why you bother with anything new.
The album gains a languid head of steam as it develops, eventually letting loose with the massive emotional one-two punch of "Hush," an understated ballad as heartbreaking as they come, and "Solstice of a Vanishing Mind," an orchestrally-enhanced coda that finds Calexico at their apex treating us to lush textures that suffocate with a thousand quiet beauties rather than overwhelm with bombast. Algiers is the kind of unassumingly perfect low-key record that gets lost in the fray too easily amongst its more audacious peers. And perhaps that's fitting. There's no outward fuss to be made for music like this. It's best suited for leaning in, not turning up, and its treasures find homes in the ears of listeners who often visit these border towns of the mind to find a beauty they can find nowhere else. (www.casadecalexico.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
Average reader rating: 7/10