Calexico's new CD, Feast of Wire, is composed of pretty much the same base elements that made The Hot Rail such a sad but thrilling ride. Yet the mood has shifted slightly, and, fittingly for a band fronted by indie rock's tightest bass and drum duo, the change is in the rhythms. Even the most ambient tracks on The Hot Rail had a desperado momentum, and the album's sequencing (a Hazlewoodesque ballad followed by a spaced-out instrumental followed by a mariachi interlude) also suggested going. But on Feast of Wire the mariachi and post-rock rhythms are more integrated into all the songwriting, making the album feel both looser and more seamless.
Thus, too, the change in atmosphere: There's a stillness to even the most driving tracks, which are crowded around the starting line. By the end of the album, the songs are all languorous and open-ended; it's as though The Hot Rail's running man stopped for a moment, took a good look around and realized that between here and there is better than either here or there.