Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Band of Horses “Infinite Arms”

Here’s another one I missed in 2010 – the major label debut, but third album, by Band of Horses. It made a lot of top 10 lists, but some fans from the band’s first two records are not pleased with the high gloss production and greater accessibility of “Infinite Arms”.

“Infinite Arms” is my introduction to the band, and with this record they’ve made quite an impression on me. This is melodic folk rock that features striking harmonies that draw comparisons to The Eagles and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Hard to believe this band is from the same city best known for producing the abrasive grunge sound 20 years ago. Band of Horses is as mellow and dreamy as their title would suggest.

Right out of the gate, Band of Horses begins “Infinite Arms” with the majestic and swirling sound of “Factory”. The grandiose, soaring atmosphere lifts you into an otherworldly place. The heavier “Compliments” brings things back down to earth, with guitars digging into the dirt. These two songs display the versatility of the band, which can swing effortlessly between gritty and soft rock. But these guys are just getting started. “Laredo” is even more accessible with a memorable chorus and wrenching lyrics. The pace slows down for “Blue Beard”, but this is not to say things get boring; on the contrary, the melody in this song is spectacular. The mid-tempo and harmony-laden “Dilly” is another highlight (video below). There are a number of other ballads that don’t raise the hair on your arms, but are listenable connections to the better songs.

Band of Horses are running on strong legs at the moment – let’s hope they don’t go in circles but rather continue to run free despite major label influence. Recommended if you like Keane, Coldplay, or The Decemberists.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11

Band of Horses on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for “Dilly”