It’s been six years since Look Mexico’s last full-length, and as such Uniola has a sense of freshness and freedom to it. The Tallahassee band’s mathy but anthemic indie-pop style—which 2010’s To Bed To Battle already nailed—remains, but Uniola is more expansive. Spacious, sweeping gestures like opener “Ride Or Die, Remember?” show off what Look Mexico does best, combining some wandering guitar lines with a pinch of electronics and an elegant, shimmering chorus.
At the other end of the spectrum are Look Mexico’s undeniable hook-writing skills. Songs like “Well, Kansas Ain’t What It Used To Be” and “I Even Got This Scar To Match” (it’s worth mentioning that every song in the band’s catalog is named after a Vin Diesel movie quote) are sterling earworms, the former a rousing pop-rock blast and the latter a downtrodden, world-weary rocker with a big verse/chorus dynamic. “Scar” is more representative of the album’s lyrical headpsace, an existential crisis in fear of falling behind in life (“All my friends, they have babies/Still let someone care for me/Six-foot fences, a beautiful yard/I wake up in the evening”).
Uniola isn’t afraid to get a little weird. The album’s penultimate “My Superman Seat-Grab Barrel Roll? I’m Still Working On It” is half Braid-esque emo rock ‘n’ roll and half atmospheric spoken-word, and this risky combination works shockingly well, a half-buried rant given a clear, poignant period with “I can’t control the unfolding of the universe.”
Album highlight “We Are Groot” has a climactic moment on which Matt Agrella sings, “Sometimes perseverance barely even makes a sound/Underground.” If Uniola is the kind of music we get when Look Mexico pokes its head out of the ground, a six-year wait seems like nothing.