Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Band of Horses: Infinite Arms

Dropping on the same day as Brothers by The Black Keys -- and coming just two weeks after new albums from Broken Social Scene and The New Pornographers, and one week after The National -- I tried to give Infinite Arms a fair shake... I didn't want it to get lost in the shuffle.  Sadly, the album couldn't stand up to any of the aforementioned (except The New Pornos), and it eventually got pushed to the back of the listening stack.

I had no cause for worry when the album was dubbed Night Rainbows in the fall of 2009 when I caught these guys at Headliners in Louisville (that show was awesome!).  They played four songs from the new album and three of them were fantastic, but somehow I think only one or two of them made the cut into the new album Infinite Arms (for the record, I thought "Night Rainbows" was a poor name for an album,).

Something happened between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010.  Not only did BoH change their album's name, they also left SubPop -- their fantastic label -- and recorded and produced Infinite Arms themselves (signing a distribution deal with Fat Possum/Columbia).  They went into the studio with at least 29 songs, but came out of it with the 12 on Arms.  Something tells me those other 17 songs really, really need to be released.

The album gets off to a promising start with "Factory," "Compliments," and "Loredo," but seems to stall until the final track.  The next-to-last song, "NW Apartment," simply seems lazy, as Ben Bridwell just sings "Northwest Apartment" over and over again (not unlike Plants and Animals' "Kon Tiki").  Uhhh, okay.  I'm sure that song is great live, but the studio version is stale right out of the box.  And then there's songs like "Dilly," that sound like a cheesy band covering a BoH song.  I'm not against bands changing their sound (SUFJAN!), but "Dilly" and "NW Apt" don't belong in the BoH catalog for quality issues, not sound issues.  On the other hand, here's an effective bit of change in sound found on "Compliments":

Grade: C+
Blurb: It's not a bad album, but it's not as good as their first two and I don't think it's as good as a SubPop-helmed Night Rainbows would've been.


  1. "...don't belong in the BoH catalog for quality issues, not sound issues."

    What do you mean here? Do they lack song-writing quality?

  2. What I meant by excluding them from the catalog for "sound issues" is that I'm not discounting them simply because they don't sound like typical BoH songs. That is to say, their atypical nature is not why I dislike them -- I dislike them because they're not good songs (regardless of authorship). Sorry for the confusion.

  3. That's what I thought; thanks. I'm still trying to get into their older records. Thanks, again, for a good review.