I really struggled with Band Of Horses upcoming release, Infinite Arms. After my first few listens, I knew that it was not as good as ‚ Everything All The Time or Cease To Begin, but I was trying to make one critical decision: If I were Joe Consumer, would I buy this album?
Instead of jumping to conclusions, I decided to ask our followers on Twitter. While I was floundering with my feelings of indifference, I was shocked at how polarizing this new album appears to be for other Band of Horses fans:
- It’s awesome. Their best effort to date! Dynamic, gorgeous, catchy. The band just gets better and better as they move ahead.
- Uneventful. there is no ‘killer song’ that makes you want this album. mediocrity?
- love the vibes from it – can’t help but smile when listening. going to be a great spring/summer album.
- I don’t mind it, I expected a bit more but still good. It’s almost like this one should be the old album and “Cease” be the new 1
- Was a bit disappointed by the first single, but haven’t heard the whole album yet
- Piece of Shit
I fell near the opinion of #4, initially feeling like this should have been the debut album, followed by Everything All The Time and Cease To Begin.
The album starts off with three of its strongest tracks, a dreamy ballad called “Factory,”‚ a more upbeat pop song called “Compliments,” and another pop-rocker called “Laredo” that features Ben Bridwell’s soft falsetto over searing guitars. In fact, Ben’s vocals haven’t been as polished in this production process, and it’s endearing. He sounds more human.
The two songs that followed, however, lost me.‚ “Blue Beard” is a slow song that moves along nicely until the 2: 40 mark when I began to hear shades of a tune from the past. As I tried to remember what song was popping into my mind, I started singing the lyrics, “someday somebody’s gonna turn around and nun nuh nuh say goodbye!” That was when my wife overheard me and said “Wilson Phillips!” Yes. Indeed. “Hold On” was the song. And while Bridwell’s falsetto is the signature sound of the band, it doesn’t resonate on “Way Back Home,” which comes off sounding like a Peter Cetera song. I’m a big Band of Horses fan, so I really hate to say that, but it was my first reaction and I still can’t help but picture Peter’s perfectly manicured blond mane of hair when that track begins.
I wish they’d have left those two tracks on the cutting room floor, because they’d be left with 11 songs and a stronger album. But enough of the only two weak points on the album. Let me tell you about my turning point with Infinite Arms.
I was in the hospital last week, holding my newborn infant on my chest while my wife slept in her hospital bed. As I reflected on the huge scare we’d just endured due to serious complications and emergency surgery on my wife, the album’s title track began to play from my laptop. The song’s lyrics, atmosphere, and Ben’s vocals reached a crescendo that brought me to tears after a day that went from panic and fear to relief and gratitude. It was one of those magical moments that will stick with me forever. Infinite Arms now has a permanent spot in the soundtrack of my life.
I’ve continued listening to Infinite Arms all week and have become enamored with other tracks like the country inspired “Older” and the sparse, acoustic “Evening Kitchen.” Will you find those big arena-rock friendly songs like “Funeral,” “Is There A Ghost,” “Wicked Gil,” and “Ode To The LRC” from past albums? No, you won’t. But I’d urge you to temper your expectations. Walk into this album like you would into a park on an impulsive day off from work with no obligations. You won’t soar off cliffs, but you’ll find splendor in the minutia.
So to sum up the longest album review in HearYa history, would I buy this album? I’d buy 70% of it.
Video: Band of Horses – Compliments