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The album is steeped in melancholy and the sun and dust of West Texas. It is as if the Kinks spent a few months near the Mexican border, bathed in its peculiar ambience, and let it permeate the songs. It is moody and whimsical, requiring more than a few listens to soak in its complexity and hidden charms; beneath its fragile surface lies a compelling piece of pop music. And its themes of innocence lost, nostalgia, and longing for ideals that have disappeared are consistent to the point where Tornillo also could be called a blues album.
"The prettiest color is blue, don't you know?" Faris says, smiling.
But the bright music contrasts with the dark lyrics penned by Salim, who clearly hails from the Ray Davies-Elvis Costello school of bitter irony and occasional self-sarcasm. "Welcome Home," a song about returning to their birthplace of El Paso, is less a celebratory homecoming than the words of a man who has come back defeated: "'Welcome Home' spelled with icing on the chocolate failure pies," Salim sings, the image strong and sour. Similarly, songs like "Acid Tongue," "Flawed by Magnificence," and "The Man from the Filling Station" make their points with the sharpest wit and most caustic of lines.
"The best lyrics and melodies take you places," Salim says. "A good song creates its own trip. Each person will have their own vision of what those people are or where those places are. You don't need drugs; all you need is an imagination. Good melody doesn't demand anything from anyone. It exists on its own.