Band of Horses – Mirage Rock
Over the course of three albums Band of Horses perfected the quick/slow method of song-writing. For every song where the guitars were thrashed out of sight, and there were plenty of them, there was another song that showed the boys were actually, like, really sensitive. They hit this formula big time on their third album, Infinite Arms. It was scarcely listenable. Pedestrian. Hard work. Ho hum. Now, with the record company promoting them in the hope of stadium-level super-stardom, you’d expect the new album to be even ‘ho-er’ and ‘hum-er’. Right? Right, but you’d be wrong. There are only a couple of outright thrash-y songs on the new album, including the pre-release single, ‘Knock Knock’, which is, well, ho hum – at best. Instead, the guys have embraced their inner Neil Young, grasped their Eagles totem, listened to their old America albums on vinyl, and written a really nice set of songs. The record company will be slightly disappointed. There are no out-and-out crowd pleasers here. The savvy music critics will absolutely hate it. After all, with this album Band of Horses are not so much pushing the musical envelope as rolling it into the shape of one big, arena-sized spliff. But guess what? The boys sound as if they actually enjoyed recording these songs, rather than filling them in like some colour-by-numbers book. Another album the same would probably be too much to stomach. But, you know, by not replicating the same predictable quick/slow formula as before, the guys have delivered a very listenable product and in its own way one that’s slightly subversive too.