Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 01:09
Algiers, the new album by Calexico, is a collection of music that comfortably settles into the background once the play button has been pushed. But with a little focus, the listener will be pulled in by the distinctive blend of rock and Latino music that gives the band its name.
Algiers, while soothing and pleasant, isn’t quite as dynamic as Calexico’s last album Carried To Dust. Songs like “Epic” and “Splitter” are built upon a foundation of rhythm guitar that is layered with trumpets, piano, violins, and viola. The momentum increases with each layer, but the songs never quite seem to reach a crescendo. Listeners get the feel of driving down an endless strip of desert highway with heavy clouds looming on the horizon.
Algiers was named after the New Orleans neighborhood where the band developed this album, but the music doesn’t seem to carry that New Orleans sound. Latin guitar dances through songs like “Sinner In The Sea” and the instrumental title track “Algiers,” bringing in a bit of mariachi with the eighth track, “Puerto,” as well. Throughout the album Spanish lyrics mingle with English.
Overall, the album is enjoyable, but it doesn’t initially stand out. Instead, it lurks in the background and slowly seeps into the listener’s consciousness. With a little attention, the songs stand up and distinguish themselves and the various instruments emerge. Algiers won’t inspire dancing, but it could inspire a few smiles and bouncing heads.