Calexico: The Black Light

The Black Light

Rating: 8.5

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Download it from Emusic

Of all the adjectives in the English vocabulary, the word "languid" is sadly inappropriate for the well- paved, tree- lined roads of my immediate surroundings. There are no sweaty denizens lazily fanning themselves as they lay sprawled upon their porch benches. When I want a burrito, I go to the mall and a pimply faced, greasy- haired teenager does his voice- breaking best to make it feel like Mexico is right around the corner. Around here, tequila is drunk by frat boys screaming "Carpe diem, dude!" as their fellow party goers barf up a beery mess.

Good thing, then, that bands like Calexico exist to remind us of words and emotions that may be absent from our immediate landscape. Somewhere inbetween the creepy non- practicing cowboy aesthetic of Palace and the shuffling beats of Latin jazz clubs, Calexico's The Black Light resonates in gloriously cinematic tones. In the hands of less soulful musicians, such combinations would sound more wanky than wonderful. These boys display impeccable taste, however, and you, the listener, are the beneficiary.

There's a remarkable amount of variety on The Black Light. "Fake Fur" takes a Brazilian rhythm and adds a subdued, shuffling bass that makes the head begin to sway. "Where Water Flows" weaves cello, vibes and expertly plugged guitar to conjure the end of yet another lonely night. The album's title track is a wonderfully reverb- drenched piece that captures the menacing tension of a convict on the loose. "Minas De Cobre (For Better Metal)" bursts into lusty mariachi trumpets that would feel at home in any Sergio Leone soundtrack.

There are also some great lyrics on the record. When on "Missing," vocalist Joey Burns sings, "There's a way the fear creaks right in/ There's an angel at your side/ To save you just in the nick of time," you feel the guilt of luck sitting in your stomach.

Virtually everything about this album bears an obscene attention to detail. Even the record's recording, performed in a seemingly spacious warehouse, is worth spewing oodles of idle, meandering prose. It's enough to make this reviewer move down South to partake in a life of crime.

-Samir Khan

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