The worst thing about grandparents is having to listen to their stories over and over again. Garden Ruin marks Calexico's tenth anniversary -- a century in rock years -- and proves that leader Joey Burns might finally be slipping into his songwriting dotage. The band has rehashed every possible element of itself, from quivering reverb and pseudo-shoegaze swirl to sourpuss folk and Zombies-meet-Gram Parsons pop. Minor-key mariachi makes a token appearance, as do French lyrics and banjo-accordion duels. So how does Burns make his slowly devolving style sound so virile disc after disc? Via sheer wizardry, Ruin feels like a rebirth, with Burns's recycling of the archetypal taking on the dimension of myth. Or maybe grandparents do know that they're reciting the same stories ad infinitum. And maybe Joey Burns knows he's singing the same old songs. But just as those songs and stories gather psychic momentum through recursion, so does Garden Ruin soothe, illuminate -- and even nurture. Just like Grandma and Grandpa did.
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