INFINITE ARMS by band of horses

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 5.3          Rolling Stone: 3.5/5          Metacritic: 69          Spin: 4/5

 

Released: May 2010
Tracklisting:
  1. Factory
  2. Compliments
  3. Laredo
  4. Blue Beard
  5. On My Way Back Home [LISTEN]

  6. Infinite Arms
  7. Dilly
  8. Evening Kitchen
  9. Older
  10. For Annabelle
  11. NW Apt.
  12. Neighbor

   Sometimes a piece of art needs to be judged, in part, by the artist behind the canvas. Just as we may give more credit to a handicapped runner over an able-bodied runner for finishing a marathon, so we must scoff at DaVinci if he were to draw a stick figure.  Band of Horses is a good band. They proved that with their first release Everything All the Time in 2006, its anthem, “The Funeral”, one of the best rock songs I’ve ever heard. 2007’s Cease to Begin, though arguably a small step back in terms of progress, made a solid mark on U.S. charts and put the band on the map for the masses.

   Despite faring far better than Cease to Begin in terms of performance (I do not know to what this phenomenon is owed), their most recent, Infinite Arms, comes in at just C+ material. All things considered, it could stand alone with at least a B grade if the band were debuting. But just as we’d chide The Beatles if they’d given us only a “good” album, we can’t feel satisfied with Band of Horses giving us a “decent” album. It’s too bad, too, because, as frontman Ben Bridwell sees it, the album marks the first time for the band in finally feeling as one cohesive unit, with previous members coming and going as if the line-up were an always-vacant motel stop.

   “Factory” opens the doors with a lull of a string intro (overdone in its more-than-enough repetition throughout), Bridwell, though still pitch perfect, giving us little in the way of excitement, unlike the first tracks to their previous albums, “The First Song” and “Is There A Ghost”, respectively. Though the Western theme stays alive and well in composition, the tired pace does little to get your blood moving. I confess my discovery, however, after coming back to the album a few weeks after first listens, that I had missed the sound to some extent.

   Single “Compliments”, though not at all epic, at least utilizes the echo-y guitar and harmonies that draw fans to the band in the first place, though not enough unfortunately. “Laredo” offers the simple happy-go-lucky though mild-mannered sound that makes for good road trip noise, Bridwell opening, “Gonna take a trip to Laredo/ Gonna take a dip in the lake.” Again, no shock or surprise here.

   “Blue Beard” opens in a Fleet Foxes-esque “Aaahhh”, drifting into a night-timey cadence of a song, a melody that, though drawing off of few chord changes, is one of the more charming melodies to be found on Infinite Arms. The band display a more acoustic side in “On My Way Back Home”, a light and pleasant tune that gives Bridwell a nice platform on which to show off his trademark sky-soaring vocals, at least intermittently. 

   The album’s title track, coming in halfway through, seems too dull to deserve the extra attention as such. Follow-up “Dilly” at least picks the pace up a bit, though not nearly enough for a Band of Horses-size spectrum, offering merely repetitive rhythm guitar atop a steady beat.

   To save time, and due to a lack of zest for the remaining material, there’s the quiet “Evening Kitchen”, the twangy “Older”, the sleepy “For Annabelle” (though it does possess a short and catchy guitar lick, as far as sleepy songs go), the rocker “NW Apt.”, and the unsurprising six-minute long farewell tune, “Neighbor”, aiming for “epic anthem”, and coming up short in terms of the aim. Though no songs insult on the newest from these guys, whom I still reserve considerable respect for, I must conclude that they could have done better, but, whether by fault of their own or not, the time wasn’t right. I just hope that next time it is.

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One response to “INFINITE ARMS by band of horses

  1. Pingback: top ten albums of 2010 | the music seen

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