US - South Carolina - Full Moon 168 - 05/28/10
Band of Horses
Brown Records/Fat Possum/Columbia
I saw Band of Horses at last year's Øya-festival, and wasn't all that convinced. They did fairly well, the crowd were pleased, but it seemed like
the band simply had a cosy-lazy time - without sweating, pushing for the little extra touch of magic. Maybe it's just festivals, and how festival gigs are meant
to be (during mid-day, or early afternoons, in sunlight). Maybe it's just me, getting a bit tired of the sometimes too kind, sometimes to even sound of Band
of Horses (BoH). Infinite Arms is their third album, and they've left Sub Pop for Capitol. A major label move. It's time to be suspicious. Even though
Fat Possum Records is a partner here, holding the credible indie card.
BoH-boss Ben Bridwell is gifted in the way of writing and serving catchy and lazy guitar-pop songs (such as opener "Factory"), slightly Americana style
(Wilco territory), but with some fingers reaching for ELO. And, he can probably be going on doing that for many a record on. The first single off this album,
"Compliments", is a bit more up-tempo, and for sure a solid pop song. Solid is a key-word for this album, and the majority of its songs. And, solid means also,
I'm sorry to say, too straightforward and in a somewhat lukewarm trot. That said, "On My Way Back Home" is a creamy pop song, melting on your tongue. Showing
Bridwell from his most happy-sad, sentimental and melancholy corner. Same goes for the calm and beautiful title-track. Several of the songs were written by
Bridwell during a stay in a cabin in Minnesota, near the Canadian border. The album has been recorded all over the US, sort of on location. The players of
BoH have been an ever-changing team (Bridwell being bossy, or what? He's the only original member...), and the team this time counts: Bridwell (vocals, guitar),
Ryan Monroe (keyboards), Tyler Ramsey (guitar and vocals), Bill Reynolds (bass), and Creighton Barrett (drums). Barrett being the longest serving member,
joining BoH shortly after the release of their excellent first album, Everything All the Time (just at the time when
Mat Brooke left to form his Grand Archives). I really, really enjoy Cease To Begin as well, and the force of Bridwell
and his Horses was: short and to the point albums. 10 songs, ca 35 minutes. Both the first and the second album. This time around it's 12 songs, some 45 minutes.
Maybe that's the problem.
Yes, there are good, likeable songs here, such as the up-tempo "NW Apt.", and the fine album closer, "Neighbor". Plus the aforementioned ones. Yet, Infinite
Arms isn't the 'sure grip' it could have been. It might grow, it might sink. It's in a way both good and bad. As long as there are no ugliness, we should
be happy. But, I'm not, really.
[PS! There'll be a Carissa's Wierd compilation out this summer, presenting some of what Brooke and Bridwell where up to together. Brooke/Grand Archives
performed some Carissa's Wierd songs during their show in Oslo this spring, along with opening act 'S', a.k.a. Jenn Ghetto - also one of the original Carissa's
Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen