Look Mexico – The Crucial Collection

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Look Mexico

The Crucial Collection - Lujo Records

It always feels odd reviewing an album out of chronological order – especially when you’re quite familiar with the artist.  On the one hand the older work serves as a stepping-stone in the band’s evolution, but on the other, it’s usually hard recommending older work if a band’s progression eventually developed into something special.  Already being familiar with indie-punk daydreamers Look Mexico, I found myself in this very situation while reviewing their early career-spanning compilation, The Crucial Collection.

The compilation features the band’s debut EP, stand alone singles, B-Sides, and an odd assortment of rarities.  The disc starts off with 2006’s The Crucial EP, one of the band’s initial debuts, and undeniably the most coherent product in the package.  The EP, originally released one year prior to the band’s seminal full-length, This is Animal Music, reveals a Look Mexico still defining its musical style.  All of their trademark sounds are still here, from the fluffy, light hearted feel to the soft twinkly guitars; but while the musicianship remains remarkably high (especially for a band in their infancy), it’s clear that the band hadn’t quite ironed out how they would balance instrumentals and vocals.  This uncertainty plays out with the band more or less moving from vocal led track to instrumental song in sequence.  The melodies remain strong, but the formula begins feeling derivative by the EP’s fifth and final track.

After The Crucial EP we find the band moving further back to 2005 with the band’s three-track So Byzantine EP.  For the most part these tracks share many similarities with those in The Crucial EP.  Tracks like “Variations On A Theme (Guys, I Need A Helicopter)” find the band indulging in lengthy instrumentals, while “Who’s Ship is This?” takes a low key, vocal led approach.

The next three tracks jettison the listener back to 2007, bringing us Japanese bonus tracks from This is Animal Music and a Summer Darlings cover.  These tracks serve as a reminder of just how far Look Mexico has progressed musically.  Specifically, “Math is Everywhere,” presents a confident band with a heightened sense of direction and meticulous attention to detail.

For the final four tracks, the collection includes a variety of remixes.  The remixes are what they are, and at the very least serve as a generous inclusion for the collection.  Some are electronically based, while others simply rearrange or build on existing tracks.  While none of them live up to their original counterparts, those like “Me And My Dad Built Her (Remix)” still retain the soothing melodies that made the originals enjoyable.

When it comes down to it, The Crucial Collection is a curious culmination of Look Mexico’s past.  In other words, The Crucial Collection is a competent novelty aimed at fans.  Newcomers will still want to start with 2007’s This is Animal Music, but for established fans The Crucial Collection provides the opportunity to peer into the band’s past, and better understand their evolution into talented musicians.