|Now expanded to a full-time septet, Calexico display a new resourcefulness and determination on The Thread That Keeps Us, which may be the album that finally hoists this most undervalued of American bands to their rightful place alongside the likes of R.E.M. and Wilco. The intimacy and evocative atmosphere of previous releases has been retained, but there’s a fresh, barnstorming spirit brought by the team surrounding the core duo of Joey Burns and John Convertino: where earlier releases sometimes felt too meticulously crafted, this one has the sound of a proper band, its members constantly egging each other into uncertain territory.
Instead of their familiar border stomping ground of Arizona and Mexico, Calexico recorded The Thread That Keeps Us in a ramshackle studio overlooking the Pacific coastline, and it’s suffused with the spirit of endless possibilities often triggered by California dreaming. Hence, perhaps, the brief instrumental interludes like “Shortboard” and the Neil Young-style guitar-noise abstract “Spinball”, which are the sound of open-ended oceanic daydreams. Hence too the edgy, piercing guitar lines twirling around each other in songs such as “Voices In The Field” and “End Of The World With You”, which recall the hippie heyday of Haight-Ashbury staples like the Dead and Quicksilver.