Album Review: Band of Horses – Infinite Arms

By on Wednesday, 5th May 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

I love beards – so it’s natural I love Band of Horses. Their past two albums are must-haves, in my opinion. So, it would make absolute sense you are expecting me to bring you an overwhelmingly positive review of the band’s latest album, ‘Infinite Arms’, today. However, it would appear – and rightly so – amid the past 3 years the band have spent writing and recording this record (losing/gaining a couple of members along the way), they have altered their sound really quite considerably.

A lot of hardcore fans are already up in arms about this, and while I don’t wish to jump on the dissin’ band wagon, I can’t help but feel I have been left a little hollow by the Seattle band’s latest musical serving.

Don’t worry, it’s not like they’ve gone rap funk or something (I mean woah that would have been awesome had they), but, ‘Infinite Arms’ is, shall we say, a matured product – filled with perfectly preened, easy on the ear hooks which would fit quite comfortably on Radio 2. It’s lighter, airy – less sorrowful, less edgy. But I really am trying to avoid those two words…’sold out’…as I don’t think they quite have.

The album kicks off with the lush strings of ‘Factory’. Ben Bridwell’s vocals continue to be perfectly angelic, floating with ease above the wispy acoustic. However this gentle number is almost a little too snoozy, the melody verging on unspectacular. Track two, ‘Compliments’ wakes things up a little with some harsher guitar riffs, as does ‘Loredo’, showcasing some pointed licks, once seen on the band’s indier debut album, ‘Everything all the Time’. However, while the stomping goodness is pleasing to the ear, and oh my, damn freekin’ catchy too, I can’t help but notice an undoubted mediocrity floating from these tracks. They fail to go down your throat, grab and pull tight at your heart strings like more vintage rocking Horses did ala ‘The Great Salt Lake’. It’s more foot stomping, radio ready rock, than emotionally outstanding electrics.

Similarly more slower paced tracks ala ‘Way Back Home’ and ‘Infinite Arms’ may be touching with Bridwell’s Neil Young stylin’ voice, the reverb and the fragile acoustics – but the apocalyptic, emotion explosion, expressed so powerfully among older albums, fails to occur throughout these super pleasing but not exactly mind blowing numbers.

‘Evening Kitchen’ and ‘Older’ are two tracks to look out for. Absolute highlights. They bring the toasty, southern roots eternally swimming beneath the band’s music to the foreground. The latter track has a particularly country slick to it, while ‘Evening Kitchen’s’ folk delicacy is subtle yet endearingly sweet. Lovely.

‘Dilly’ and ‘Northwest Apartment’ are two tracks with notably faster BPMs. While the former track may have beautifully summery riffs, all in all it’s unmemorable, while ‘Northwest Apartment’ is, well, pretty much exactly that – with Bridwell repeating the title over and over among the racy indie chorus. Track 10, ‘Trudy’, showcases a bit of retro Band of Horses with some awesome falsetto from Bridwell, and album closer ‘Bartles + James’ is a harmonious explosion to rival Fleet Foxes, but aside from these two numbers, those seeking that older sound from this record should be prepared for a let down.

Still, this review was written in the context of the two previous albums we all know and have grown to love. In a way, I suppose you could say it was by a Band of Horses fan, for a Band of Horses fan. Yet, as a stand alone object, the talent of this band is still, absolutely incredible. However, I can’t help but feel the music of the new record is leaning towards the audience of average rockers ala, say, Athlete (oh God..). So, yes, I do think this album risks losing a lot of older fans, but at the same time, will see the band prolly make up that loss with a hoard of new ones.

To conclude – I can‘t help but sense this will be the album that finally makes them big. Underground kids – kiss them goodbye while you can.

Infinate Arms is out now. After the jump is a video of previously-unseen in-studio and live footage of the band and interviews with all the members.

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3 Responses

11:10 pm
9th May 2010

Good review – I’m actually really happy about the hookier sort of sound on the new album and don’t think it’s too huge of a leap away from the earlier BOH stuff. Really excited to see these guys live again soon. For anyone that’s interested – there’s a download of the song “Factory” up on the BOH site for free right now.. recommend checking it out! http://www.bandofhorses.com

1:26 pm
12th May 2010

Your Comments
This review I have to agree is pretty well spot on….
Have loved BOH for the last 2 albums and seeing them live is a fantastic experience. But I am a little dissapointed, They seem to have lost the very things that made them stand out in the first place.

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