Band of Horses had thus far enjoyed a career that’s seen them rack up more interest critically that it has commercially. Until, that is the release of their third album, ‘Infinite Arms’, which as it stands has managed to crash into a fairly respectably position on the UK album charts following in the footsteps of fellow American beard-sporting plaid-wearing groups such as The National and Fleet Foxes.
If anything the spectre of the success of the latter of the aforementioned groups hangs over ‘Infinite Arms’. There’s not a chance that this has been deliberately played for commercial success but overall Band of Horses seemed to have reigned in their Southern Rock-isms and reverbed up amplification in favour of more close vocal harmonies and more intimate numbers.
Said approach works to an extent but where Infinite Arms suffers is in it’s structure and flow. After a fantastic opening that sees the wistful ‘Factory’ give way to chorus heavy singles ‘Compliments’ and ‘Laredo’ the amount of semi-acoustic and mid-paced songs robs the album of any sense of pace or movement. Granted said run is interrupted by the wonderful ‘Dilly’ and the songs that make up the glut of the album’s centre stand up in their own rights, but in clustering them together ‘Infinite Arms’ can be said to sag.
Again, this is not without its advantages, you understand. ‘NW Apt.’ in following on from this is rendered incendiary with it’s chugging guitars and nostalgic lyrics indebted to the powers of pop music and brilliance of being in a band. Any lesser impact may have consigned it to a naffness from which it has been thankfully saved.
Concentrating still on the positive side of the LP; it’s positively redolent of classic American music, a sound that as we’ve mentioned is undergoing something of a critical and successful resurgence right now. With the majority of big bands in recent years being indebted to scratchy and urban post-punk sounds the expansive guitars and big sounding drums that Band of Horses take to releasing climaxes are a reawakening to the sounds that so repulsed the original punks.
It could be argued that Band of Horses and ‘Infinite Arms’ are ‘rock for rocks sake’ but that’s massively missing the point. There’s heart and soul here and despite this record’s flaws it’s still immensely likeable and a good introduction to a superb band.
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