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Band of Horses' pleasing,
yet safe third effort

Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
(Brown Records / Fat Possum Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 20, 2010
Band of Horses

Review by Tony Bonyata

Despite their association and success with Sub Pop Records (which played a big part in breaking bands such Nirvana, Soundgarden, Wolf Parade, The Shins and Fleet Foxes) Band of Horses decided to leave the influential indie label prior to releasing their third and latest studio album, Infinite Arms. Bandleader and frontman Ben Bridwell explains his decision to leave the established label in favor of starting his own imprint, Brown Records (under the umbrellas of Fat Possum & Columbia Records), "We just really wanted to make sure that we can have our hands in the pie." Fair enough, even though this particular pie - creatively at least - isn't quite as satisfying as previous servings.

Band of Horses' first two albums, Everything All The Time from 2006 and Cease to Begin from 2007, found the group tapping into a transcendental beauty with songs that straddled the fence between indie-pop and Americana folk music. And while Infinite Arms follows in much the same manner, this is, perhaps, the album's Achilles' heel, as the music here never progresses as much as their earlier efforts may have promised.

While the initial single "Compliments" never hits its mark as effectively as previous singles such as the frail "The Funeral," "Is There A Ghost" or the bittersweet melancholy of "No One's Gonna Love You," there are still enough strong moments on this record to warrant picking up a copy. The sturdy "Laredo" perfectly blends Americana music with pop smarts, while the track "Older" mixes a touch of country with a simple, yet effective songcraft. The decidedly more gentle acoustic numbers "Evening Kitchen" and "For Annabelle" also help round out the collection nicely. But it's not until the album is near its completion that it really starts building steam through the standout, pounding rocker "NW Apt." And if these songs weren't enough, there's always Bridwell's warm, inviting voice that holds sway throughout these 13 tracks.

Infinite Arms finds Band of Horses moving in more of a lateral direction than a forward one, but considering the terrain they're treading is built on the strengths of their past, this should be enough to suffice until they're ready to really break out of the gate.

Related articles:

Band of Horses (Lollapalooza 2009) - Festival review - Chicago, IL - August 2009

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