Album Review: Calexico – Algiers

The De Mello Rating: 

Calexico is known for making records about families being torn apart or about border conflict in general and their new album Algiers is no different. Except it happens to be the best album they’ve ever done. They recorded it in New Orleans and there’s definitely that jazz feel to it, but also a folk style that I can’t quite put my finger on. Calexico lead singer, Joey Burns, father to two new twin girls has managed to create a fantastic record filled with heartfelt stories, conviction and enough stories to warm even the most cynical among us.

The conviction is very apparent in Burn’s voice and even the cadence if the drums are different than in some of their other albums. There’s a certain Max Roach feel to John Convertino’s style on this album. The album is haunting in its complexity and while it never hits the jugular emotionally it certain makes one think. I have been impressed by the level of musical brilliance produced this year and I’m adding Calexico’s Algiers to that mix. This is definitely their finest hour, perhaps that has to do with the fractured times in which we now live or perhaps fatherhood has enhanced Burns’ ability to write a compelling narrative through music. Regardless, do yourself a favor and purchase Algiers today.

Best Song: Fortune Teller – A song about letting someone in and having them burn you, but still wanting that relationship to continue. Simplistic musically, compared to an album rife with instrumental experimentation. This pared down song is the standout of a fantastic album.


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