Band Of Horses

Mirage Rock

Written by: TL on 20/10/2012 17:54:21

While I have recently been working to expand our coverage of all things folk-rock and country-rock due to a growing personal interest in the genres, the keyword for today is 'recently', because the author's of today's first subject for review, Band Of Horses, are not a band I have been following closely since they broke through back in 2006 with their debut LP "Everything All The Time". I just know them from their stand out singles from that and sophomore album "Cease To Begin", the brilliant "The Funeral" and "Is There A Ghost?", both of which cast the band for me as one whose merit was found in the epic, soaring push they gave to folk-rock, making them seem much more emotive than the typically calm and laid-back artists you can otherwise hear in the genre.

It's been sort of surprising to me then, to go in for my first review of the band on their recently release fourth album "Mirage Rock" and find that it is very much a chill, subtle country-rockin' album - heavy on the country - that is more in line with My Morning Jacket or Iron Wine than with big sound bands like Coldplay. Of course this is not necessarily a bad trait considering the qualities of those bands, but still my trips through "Mirage Rock" have found me wanting for the pathos of the Band Of Horses singles I know a bit, because these guys just don't seem to bring as much creativity into the style as for instance My Morning Jacket did on their recent "Circuital".

There are occasions of memorable refrains in "Slow Cruel Hands Of Time", opener "Knock Knock" and closer "Heartbreak On The 101", and "Dumbster World" offers an interesting crunchy break halfway through its running time, but overall I find the arrangements to be just a little too safe and traditional. Due to Band Of Horses' experience there are of course a good deal of elegant musical subtleties, but in my opinion they are perhaps a bit too subtle here, with the moods of songs often feeling static. Of course I've been reading around the internet that this only allows the depth of the band's lyrics to carry the day, but I must admit that as a somewhat impatient Rockfreak, I'm having a hard time paying consistent attention to these lyrics when the music itself does not do more to underscore them.

"Mirage Rock" has never really gotten exciting for me, rather ending up as a listen that is some times soothing, some times just a little dull. So I guess my main conclusion is that despite my growing affection for country and folk-rock, Band Of Horses are currently a band meant for more tempered and patient listeners than myself. I wonder if many of those read Either way, on here it's us that decide the grades, and our best grades are normally given to records that are consistently dynamic and emotionally evocative. And from where I'm sitting, I'm afraid "Mirage Rock" isn't quite that, despite the hype for it that you might have read elsewhere.


Download: Knock Knock, Slow Cruel Hands Of Time, Dumbster World, Heartbreak On The 101
For The Fans Of: My Morning Jacket, Iron And Wine, River City Extension

Release Date 21.09.2012
Sub Pop / Columbia / Fat Possum

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