Whenever a band is described as Tex-Mex, it’s hard not to envisage a huge plate of steaming hot nachos and a veritable indulgence of all the finest food groups. So when Calexico announced their ninth studio album Edge Of The Sun was in the oven, it goes without saying that we got our anti-drool bib ready.
Is it satisfying, though? The entirely inoffensive Woodshed Waltz and Tapping on the Line nod back to the band’s earlier releases, showcasing beautiful string arrangements and percussion. However, along with boring staple Miles from the Sea, they are a prime example of the corn chips that got kinda soggy underneath everything else and are merely a vehicle for shovelling in the good stuff.
Thankfully, this album has moments of true coolness to balance things out. Bullets & Rockets has a whiff of Gomez about it, with spot-on harmonies and guitar production. Similarly World Undone sets up something haunting, slow-building, and really quite delicious.
And of course, in true Tex-Mex form, Cumbia De Donde brings some real heat and flavour, with stellar guest vocals, righteous horns and a real sound of summer. It’s a shame there isn’t more of this, because it’s done to perfection. That, and instrumental track Coyoacan which has definite theme tune potential (think Breaking Bad meets a Murder She Wrote Mexican special. We’d watch that).
Seeing as though we’re grabbing that food metaphor and galloping with it: Edge of the Sun is a record that, unfortunately, lacks meat, and is a bit like listening to a compilation album of various artists. Lyrically, there’s nothing here to write home about; then again, they don’t read like a GSCE creative writing exercise, so let’s just count our blessings and tuck in to the spicy bits.