The band that emerged from Seattle in 2006 to release the gorgeously grandiose Everything All the Time, have since changed locations, and with it they have subtly shifted their sound to something slightly more tangible. Now, with the 3rd release, Infinite Arms, from Band of Horses, the group seems to have taken to heart their current home of South Carolina. When listening to Infinite Arms, there are traces of the massive landscapes, painted by crashing percussion and soaring guitars, which made Band of Horses an instant indie favorite a few years ago. For the first time though, the band has worked collectively to craft 12 ear pleasing tracks. This can be heard in the use of harmonies and perfectly placed backing vocals throughout the album. The bands newest release celebrates heavy folk roots with their knack for creating compelling indie rock.
“Factory,” the opening track of the album, evokes old memories of Everything… by creating a larger than life sound, inviting a strings arrangement to carry the song from start to finish. Ben Bridwell, lead singer and only remaining original member of the band, evokes sentimental tenderness with echoing vocals reminiscent of Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Horns only add to the enthralling orchestration of a song that doesn’t quite match up to “The First Song,” though it does deserve a runner-up award for the group’s strongest album opener to date.
Once again, the band shows glimpses of their immense talent for blending Americana and indie on the albums single, “Laredo.” The guitars triumph through the speakers as Bridwell soothes the listener into an entrancing and inviting chorus. Fans who prefer the debut, Everything… over the bands 2nd effort, Cease To Begin, will most likely swoon over this track, which could sit comfortably in the middle of the bands first release.
The beautifully somber “Evening Kitchen” highlights Infinite Arms most heart wrenching song. Bridwell and backup vocalists emote frailty as they painfully muster lyrics, “For me, this bottle of wine/Is to slow down my mind/And forget the things I knew.” I mean really, who hasn’t felt like this at one point or another??
Other tracks such as “Blue Beard” and “Older” show off their love of folk and country, sounding a lot like The Band, rather than Band of Horses. “Dilly,” is an incredibly catchy piece of indie pop. Happy keys and harmonies accentuate the albums most clear-cut pop gem.
Ultimately, Infinite Arms has something to offer all listeners. Remnants of the band that gave us huge arrangements such as “The Funeral” can still be found, while at the same time heading more in the direction of straightforward indie folk. Of course, the reason Band of Horses is so successful in their changes in sound and tone is that Bridwell and company are extremely gifted songwriters. Even when writing a song that any other band might make sound average, the group is unique in the scope and heart that they can bring to the table. Simply put, Band of Horses can pretty much travel in any musical direction they please. They are just that good.