Nine albums in and Calexico are still pushing the boundaries of expectations and their own creative urges. Many of their albums have sounded produced and polished – polite even. Here they dismiss any need for a clean or cohesive sound, instead adding some grit and distortion and a gauzier texture to some the album’s 15 tracks.
‘End Of The World With You’ finds a better U2 than that band can currently muster before ‘Voices In The Field’ dips into North African desert guitar sounds and ‘Bridge To Nowhere’ recalls a more febrile and nervy rock ’n’ roll take on Radiohead. From then on, all kinds of musical ideas get thrown into the mix. Some are short pieces, only a couple of minutes long while others such as ‘Another Space’ dig a fine Talking Heads groove of disco funk. Calexico’s trademark Mexicali fusion is still intact but holds less focus than many of their previous albums. The two highlights in the second half of the album are the acoustically swaying, sweet and soulful ‘Girl In The Forest’ and the Pixies meets post-rock grand gesture of ‘Dead In The Water’.
In the end, the theme of making sense of these changing times is what ties together the potpourri of musical styles, of which some more successful than others. The Thread That Keeps Us amounts to an interesting yet disjointed listening experience.