Calexico - Algiers (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
CALEXICO have delivered arguably their finest work with seventh album, Algiers.
Recorded in the melting pot of New Orleans, the album draws inspiration as much from the surroundings of the restored church in which Joey Burns and John Convertino took up residence as from the multi-faceted nature of the city itself, which extends down beyond the American border into Mexico.
Hence, there’s sweeping romanticism, classic American rock values and even, at various points, a Mariachi feel to proceedings. It’s lively, beautiful, epic and bittersweet… an album that combines hope with darkness. And it’s mesmerising.
It’s little wonder, then, that album opener is called Epic and sets things in motion in tantalising fashion… guitar-based for the most part, it throws in the odd blast of brass and features a lush set of vocals that immediately win you over.
The pace picks up a little more for Splitter, which has a more straight-forward rock, while there’s a Cuban-soul vibe to the tinkling pianos, funky bass and foot-stomping percussion of Sinner In The Sea, which is another instant highlight, albeit couched in a kind of blues.
Fortune Teller offers lush, acoustic-driven folk-pop to ease you into a good mood and reflective state of mind (hinting at The Shins in its use of backing harmony), while title track Algiers has a cinematic quality befitting Mexican cinema and a Mariachi guitar lead-in. It’s beautiful.
Later on, Better And Better makes more great use of the flamenco guitar sound, while No Te Vayas offers a Spanish-language duet between Jacob Valenzuela and Jairo Zavala that feels warm, romantic and vibrant (complete with fantastic use of brass).
Hush is another warm slice of acoustic folk and album closer The Vanishing Mind rounds things off with a great slice of mid-tempo balladry, recalling the brilliance of classic Crowded House at times (while retaining many of the album’s cinematic values).
In short, Algiers is a work of pure class that ought not to be missed.
Download picks: Epic, Fortune Teller, Sinner In The Sea, Algiers, Better and Better, No Te Vayas,The Vanishing Mind