The Thread That Keeps Us

Calexico - The Thread That Keeps Us
Critic Score
Based on 13 reviews
2018 Ratings: #547 / 735
User Score
Based on 47 ratings
2018 Ratings: #786
January 26, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
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The Independent

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.


By turns gentle and bold, traditional and boundary-pushing, The Thread That Keeps Us is another fine example of Calexico's ever-broadening horizons.

The Guardian
After nine albums, it takes effort to make a record that sounds as vibrant as this, without losing the very basis of your original appeal. Calexico have managed it.
Under The Radar
There is comfort for fans of Calexico that their newest effort is not a departure, but an expanded inclusion of musical styles added to their all-too wide palette of sound.
They’ve been around long enough that they’ve lost much of their capacity to surprise; at some point, they fell into a pattern of making very solid hangout records, where even their most adventurous stylistic gambits began to feel like a kind of comfort food. This album’s clear stakes, though, make it feel vital in spite of that familiarity.

In The Thread That Keeps Us, Calexico have learned to let go a little, to let nature take over. The result is surprisingly comforting.

No Ripcord

There’s more of an improvisational focus to a lot of Thread, where they take on themes such as immigration policy and ecological concerns with their usual storytelling flair. It does have a familiar, intuitive touch; this is Calexico, after all. But the duo never does things with little effort or care.


In the end, The Thread that Keeps Us is a good Calexico record, still it doesn’t have outstanding peaks. It flows gently down the stream, yet besides a few memorable moments (all of them coming from the band’s comfort zone) there’s nothing to go crazy about.

The Skinny
It’s uneven, certainly, but worth panning for the gold.
Drowned in Sound

On The Thread That Keeps Us, Calexico have splurged. They’ve flexed their muscles and had a go at everything, with the possible exception of speed metal. Some of it has worked, but not all of it. Hopefully, the next album will hone down their sound and focus it like a laser beam.

There are some truly enjoyable moments on Calexico's latest — but they're vastly overshadowed by at turns annoying or just boring tracks, bogged down in an overly long record.
The Thread That Keeps Us musically equates to the experience of drinking flavoured water, pleasant enough though not the most exciting choice and while bland at its core it is mixed with something a little more interesting.

The vocals are pretty good, remind me a good deal of Jeff Tweedy from Wilco though less passionate, the vocals here can feel distant and disconnected at times too.

The instrumental parts have some more interesting moments but aren't hugely creative, the song structures ... read more
The musical risks Calexico take on The Tread That Keeps Us more than pay off. It feels experimental and accessible. Got to love an album like this that grows richer with each listen.
Honestly, it felt like a bit of a chore to work my way through “The Thread That Keeps Us.” It’s not a weak album per se, but Calexico seem fundamentally set in their ways, incapable of introducing any sounds or lyrics that truly surprise. The band has demonstrated a strong capacity for genre-hopping in the past. While some of the genre-hopping is the same here, the tempo is so unvaried and the commitment level so low that all of the songs still largely sound the same. A few ... read more
Better stuff out there
This is easily the Safest and most forgettable album that Calexico have put out recently. It saddens me to say that there are seriously a handful of really great tunes on here that act as the gateway to all of these great Genres that Calexico have worked with for years. It’s all here, the Latin Rock, the Alternative Country, the Tex-Mex. But Calexico seems to just be so uninspired here, making for a small handful of very impassioned Folk gems. But too much of this album is made up of ... read more
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Year End Lists


Track List

  1. End of the World With You
  2. Voices in the Field
  3. Bridge to Nowhere
  4. Spinball
  5. Under the Wheels
  6. The Town & Miss Lorraine
  7. Flores y Tamales
  8. Another Space
  9. Unconditional Waltz
  10. Girl in the Forest
  11. Eyes Wide Awake
  12. Dead in the Water
  13. Shortboard
  14. Thrown to the Wild
  15. Music Box
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Added on: November 11, 2017