Thursday, May 20, 2010

Band of Horses - 'Infinite Arms'

Band of Horses throw fans a few curveballs while generally preserving their sound on their third album and major label debut, Infinite Arms. The vocals are less haunting, but the country rock leanings are turned up. Folks complained about Cease to Begin sounding too much like Everything All the Time, but they might be just as miffed that Infinite Arms doesn’t sound enough like the group’s thrilling debut. Frontman Ben Bridwell seems to have given up on trying to write another rocker like “Funeral,” opting to fill this new release with acoustic guitars, strings and occasionally other dudes on vox, resulting in something that’s a little less Sub Pop, a little more dad rock. It might take a few spins to take root, but it’s not exactly the most challenging album either. It’s good, not great, but since we’re talking about Band of Horses, that’s good enough.

“Factory” lets listeners know right away that the group is headed in a different direction with canned strings. It still sounds like BoH, just with cleaner production, but it’s a sufficient enough twist to redefine the group’s sound. “Compliments” is a safer bet, a My Morning Jacket-style rocker. It’s no “Islands on the Coast,” but it delivers a bit of pep when heard in context. Rockers like “Compliments,” or later track “NW Apt.”, will probably go over well at festivals, but it’s the quieter songs that sound better on record. “Laredo” is deliciously mournful. “On My Way Back Home” and “Evening Kitchen” recall the mellower moments of Wilco’s Being There or Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue, to great success.

But while fans might cope with the slight sonic shift in time, it’s going to be harder to get around the lyrics. Bridwell has always been a little hit-or-miss. “Is There a Ghost,” for example, is catchy, but does anyone really care what it’s about? Often, Bridwell’s delivery is what puts the songs over the top. It’s what makes “No One’s Gonna Love You” that much better, “Funeral” that much more powerful. Here, though, even Bridwell’s beautiful country twang is tested by clunkers like “I thought about you in a candy bar” and “Now if Bartles & Jaymes didn’t need no first names / We could live by our own laws in favor.” That’s what ultimately keeps the record from being a knockout. The songs generally sound good, but they don’t always hold up under closer examination.

Infinite Arms is disappointing after Band of Horses’ first two albums, but it’s also a solid collection of songs on its own merits. It’s an easy listen, an enticing country/folk record, a nice comedown. And it comes with those neat-o photos that the band included in their other albums. I love those.

1 comment:


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Hi Joe,

On behalf of Columbia Records and Band of Horses, many thanks for plugging "Infinite Arms" on your site (the newly released album by Band of Horses) ... .. thanks, also, on behalf of the artist and labels for not posting any pirate links to unreleased (studio) material and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, then a full length version of "Factory" is available for fans and bloggers to link to / post / host etc on the band’s site at ... .. for further details of the new album, pre-orders, on-line promotions, videos and 2010 shows, check-out the official site, as well as the band’s MySpace at ... .. and keep an eye on these official sources for details of further news, preview material and on-line promotions.

Also and as a goodwill gesture to fans and bloggers, an exclusive widget for the video of “Compliments” is available on the band’s site and an exclusive preview stream of the full album is also now available via ... .. these are for embedding / hyper-linking ONLY and for streaming by fans directly off the band’s website, so please reciprocate this goodwill gesture by NOT ripping or re-posting these files.

Thanks again for your plug.