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Band of Horses - Infinite Arms (Cover Artwork)

Band of Horses

Band of Horses: Infinite ArmsInfinite Arms (2010)
Brown/Fat Possum/Columbia

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

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.
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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.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
leecorsoisapenis (May 26, 2010)

Jelone - I hear ya. That lyric from "Factory" is cringe worthy. It's such a great song though. The more I listen to this album, the more it starts to grow on me. Cease to Begin hooked me right away, so I expected the same. Everything All the Time had to grow on me too, so that might be a good sign.

R3vengeTherapy (May 25, 2010)

"Dad rock"? Ouch.

I guess I don't see it. I like this record a lot. I'm not saying it's better than Cease to Begin, but it's still really good and one of the highlights for me so far this year.

Jelone (May 25, 2010)

Lee - Yeah, Pitchfork did single out the same quotes. Having read their review before writing my own, I went back and forth about mentioning them, but that candy bar line just pisses me off so much.

Er'rybody else - Agreed. It does take a while to grow. But I've only made the jump from hating Infinity Arms to finding it pretty good, but nothing special, and I don't see myself moving beyond that.

tofuatomic (May 25, 2010)

I think it is a great record. The first spin was a little meh, but it crept up out of nowhere. If you want "everything all the time', then by all means put it on. "Infinite arms" sits really nice in a bands progression. It has all the elements of a BoH record, it's just not the other two they have released.

danperrone (May 25, 2010)

pretty bad album...and i was a huge fan of cease to begin.

slymer (May 25, 2010)

So far the reviews haven't been so hot. I'm still going to pick it up today.

Blackjaw_ (May 25, 2010)

Haven't given it too many listens but I know I don't like it nearly as much as their other two albums. And it's not even just because it's less rocky or whatever, I mean I'm in love with their earlier project Carrisa's Wierd and that's consistently slow "chamber pop".

leecorsoisapenis (May 25, 2010)

"??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.?

Didn't Pitchfork use these exact same examples when talking about lyrics that were clunkers? Still, nice review. "Cease to Begin" was an amazing record.

oldpunkerforever (May 25, 2010)

Initially took a liitle more time to grow on me, now I realize that sometimes, brilliance takes time. On my way back home and Infinite arms are just that, brilliant-oldpunker-

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