Look Mexico - To Bed to Battle (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Look Mexico

To Bed to Battle (2010)

Suburban Home

Coming off their best material of their brief career in Gasp Asp and with a new drummer and label, it's reasonable to assume that Look Mexico had some lofty expectations surrounding their sophomore full-length, To Bed to Battle. But instead of dropping some more mathy emo, the band elected to dabble in more traditional song structures that have turned off some fans in the few months since its release. Regardless, To Bed to Battle is a mostly successful release on its own merits, even if it hasn't ended up being what mostly everybody wanted from the band.

And it's hard to dispute what an immense opening track "You Stay. I Go. No Following." is. Frontman Matt Agrella has evolved into one of the best, most dynamic vocalists in the scene, and his leaps and bounds of improvement are on full display here as he wails over dramatic instrumentation that calls to mind a more subdued Moneen. Frank Turner steps in on the refrain for a choice guest spot, and he and Agrella harmonize quite well toward the song's end.

The catchiness of the vocal pattern along with some impressive drum fills anchor "No Wonder I'm Still Awake" and "I Live My Life a Quarter Mile at a Time," the latter using some muffled, dissonant guitar sounds to enhance its more atmospheric moments. Another highlight comes in the form of the sunny, brief and infectious "They Offered Me a Deal (I Said No, Naturally)," a track augmented by somber horn parts that were so important and prevalent on Gasp Asp.

Look Mexico slows things down on "They Only Take the Backroads" with success, mostly due to Agrella's pipes and his backing band's ability to subtly up the tension with every guitar strum and drum pound. The keyboards help meld the atmosphere here as well. The band employs acoustics and twang for "Take It Upstairs, Einstein" and in lieu of making some joke like "They ARE a Suburban Home band now, after all!", we'll just call this what it is: a solid departure and an excellent "third track," if that makes any sense.

The band enters quite a bit of uncharted territory here (for them, anyway) and despite it being perceived as a regression by many, there's more than enough quality material here to engage the listener.