Look Mexico

To Bed To Battle

Written by: DR on 09/03/2010 13:09:20

My first experience of Look Mexico came when the frontman Matt Agrella lent his voice to the lo-fi 90s indie styled Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) song "An Idea Is A Greater Monument Than A Cathedral". That song is the finest on the album, and Matt's cameo is the finest moment in the song, which caused me to hope for something akin to it with his own band. Initially, I was disappointed, but over time I learnt to accept, and even like their math-indie-pop-rock, yet I was never really wowed. As a result, I came into this review of their second full-length with little expectations.

In all likelihood, that probably helped me enjoy this album more. Their brand of math-indie-pop-rock (patent pending) does take some getting used to. "To Bet To Battle" is not, in any way, a plug-in and play type album. This is because it's close enough to the standard indie format for it to sound familiar, yet just far enough removed that its pleasures don't become apparent immediately. Patience is key. This uniqueness is what seems to have made Look Mexico pretty popular already, but the fact that they take some getting used to is likely to have deterred many. This applies to every song apart from one - opening song and first single "You Stay. I Go. No Following." An astute choice for it to be the first released song, as it's not only the most accessible and the catchiest, but it features frequent suggestions of British indie. In particular, I couldn't help but recognise The Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition" as a likely influence (They are actually Australian, but that song was huge here, and they do still put the queen on their money).

This album is more enjoyable if you skip tracks two and three, as they are horribly out of place. Not just in terms of track-order, but in regards to genre. The first of the two "No Wonder I'm Still Awake" attempts to be offbeat, but neither the musicianship nor the vocals are very well constructed, resulting in a mess; the second being an acoustic number with a southern accent. Neither of them have any place on this record.

Afterwards, it's a thankful return to the big indie tunes. Songs such as "Until The Lights Burn Out?" and closer "Just Like Old Times" are slowish and heart-warming, showing the bands ability to build soundscapes in a similar fashion to how the indie/emo bands do, and do well. Even at risk of losing what makes them special, I'd like to see them explore this style further as they are more than capable of being as bold as the best of them. "They Offered Me A Deal (I Said No, Naturally)" would be a good choice for a second single if they decide to release one, because of its foot-tappingly good upbeat nature and catchy chorus. And yes, if you hadn't already guessed, every song title is a Vin Diesel quote.

Look Mexico are in possession of that ability that allows them to switch between dynamic chorus' and grand instrumentation without yielding on their 'edge'. On the whole "To Bed To Battle" is an enjoyable ride because its joys outweigh its shortcomings, meaning this is worth a listen. While I wouldn't go as far to say it will propel Look Mexico to anywhere near the forefront on the indie scene just yet, there is just enough here to imply that the notion of them one day escaping the clutches of the underground by finding themselves on the radar of the mainstream being not an altogether naive one.

Download: You Stay. I Go. No Following; Until The Lights Burn Out; They Offered Me A Deal (I Said No, Naturally)
For The Fans of: Algernon Cadwallader; Street Smart Cyclist; This Town Needs Guns;
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 23.03.2010
Suburban Home Records

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