Calexico – Algiers

On their seventh album (their ninth including soundtrack work) Algiers, Calexico once again embrace the dusty sweep of bordertown Americana. As always, they seem to shooting for something more ancient, more noble than faddish genre play, with good reason: after 15 years, you can hardly call Calexico’s commitment to their sound a fad.

On Algiers the band’s various elements – the brushed drums, upright bass, mariachi horns and aspiring-novelist lyrics – make for a lovely, evocative mix. However, it occurs to you that the band’s status as soundtrack favourites is a bit of a backhanded compliment, an acknowledgement that for all their considerable musicianship, their music has the ability to simply drift right by.

There are moments that really jump out, though. ‘Sinner In The Sea’, for instance, has a real urgency, both in its Cuban-inflected arrangement and in its surreal narrative. ‘No Te Vaya’ takes the Cuban influence further, with a Spanish-language guest turn from Jairo Zavalok. These uncharacteristic turns represent bright spots on a consistent, but self-effacing album.