By: Eric G.
Maquiladora explores a lo-fi, ghost-town-saloon aesthetic not too unfamiliar but slightly askew with a whole host of vintage instruments and versatile voices, creating an album of remarkable craft and beauty. The band certainly takes cues from Neil Young, Tom Waits, Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen and probably even Mercury Rev. “Julian” sounds so much like Tom Waits it’s almost frightening. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. There is a point when homage turns into blatant imitation, but Maquiladora employs so many other styles on this record that you can hardly hold one song against the group. Plus, it’s a good song even if it does sound exactly like Tom Waits.
To Maquiladora’s credit each song sounds like a different band playing it. The melodies in “Ankle” are heavy-lidded and float over top a distant guitar jangle with countless concurrent and extraneous sounds. “So Far Away” has a nightmarish quality with its eerie spoken word backdrop and off-kilter guitars. White Sands sounds like the soundtrack to some bizarre, neo-psychedelic musical taking place way out West. “Itchy Song” pulls you into its downtrodden mood with gravelly vocals and tentative jug band pluckings. There are Eastern overtones mixed in with the rough and ragged as well, particularly in “Termez 1936”- the most experimental song on White Sands.
Maquiladora eschews the easy way out with White Sands. Most of the songs are hard to digest upon first hearing, but their loose construction opens up countless interpretations so that each listen reveals new insight. The band clearly has the capacity to write straghtforward pop songs because underneath all the experimentation lays the groundwork for a collection of well-crafted melodies. White Sands is definitely one of those albums that grows on you. Do seek it out.