Though it may have been inspired by a sense of chaos around them in the world right now, it is hard not to find real joy in Calexico’s ninth studio album, The Thread That Keeps Us. It pulsates with energy and light, like a real-life breathing being. The arrangements are lush and layered and the band sounds excited to explore the wide range of sonic elements of these songs. The Thread That Keeps Us is unlike anything we’ve ever heard from the seven-piece band. It is a product of this moment and practically forces us to be present when we listen to it.
The sweeping melodic pop-rock of “End of the World With You” opens the record with a familiar Calexico sound, but the sense of elation that emanates from it makes us feel like we’re experiencing the birth of an anthem. It has a larger-than-life presence, even as it lyrically confronts the anxiety of living in an unstable time. There is romantic right-here-right-now-ness that lifts you up from wherever you are.
Elsewhere “The Town & Miss Lorraine” weaves an intricate narrative through a whimsical, pop-folk sound, while “Bridge to Nowhere” and “Another Space” play out like paranoid tailspins with a slow burn tension that continues to build. Crisp, clear horns add warmth and sweetness to the instrumental “Unconditional Waltz,” and the rhythmic “Under the Wheels” verges on ska. The Thread That Keeps Us is eclectic and endlessly fascinating. There are no limits and the band fearlessly runs through the fire across all 15 tracks. From mariachi to punk and psychedelic rock, Calexico shows us that the threads that truly do tie us all together don’t necessarily come from the same cloth. And that’s what makes us hold onto them even tighter, especially in the darkest of times.