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75. Calexico – Black Heart

10/10/2009

75

Calexico’s desert-noir soundworld – tumbleweed blowing through one-horse towns, empty, straight roads turned hazy by the arid heat, noble cowboys wincing as they knock back homemade bourbon – has never had a better accompaniment than Black Heart. Its success is in its scene-setting: opening with a musical crunching of brakes and an abrupt about-turn, the drama is upon us instantly, as if some outlaw has galloped into town before stopping in his tracks to survey the scene. That tension, borne maybe of a courageous maverick crossing the border or outrunning the law, swells through the track, accentuated by the steely, mumbled lyrics and the ever-building strings. But like all good Westerns, there’s a shootout – musically if not lyrically – at the end, and the track has to die a theatrical death. Descending into cacophony, Black Heart is pure cinema to its final breath, a finely crafted triumph of genre and texture.

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