By: Bo Liebman
Coming off the success of the beautiful, dynamic Cease to Begin, Band of Horses return with an album which is calming, soothing, sometimes bouncy, but ultimately flat.
Opener “Factory” is one of the most gorgeous songs on the album, mixing orchestrated folk with a melody one could imagine Billie Holiday singing. It’s a nice departure for the band known for its straight-forward folk songs, but not as great as the following two tracks. “Compliments” is by far the bounciest track, using great harmonies as the singer tries to uplift with hope for a higher power to “fall back on”. The chorus doesn’t have the most original melody (I can think of a Lucero and a BoySetsFire song that are very similar), but it works for BoH.
“Laredo” is an album highlight, as it follows a miserable lover wondering if his girl is really gone, while still unsure if he would even want to come back to her. It will be hard not to hum along to this after listening.
Unfortunately, BoH let the rock die down after these songs, and don’t find it again until their most energized track “Northwest Apartment”. That’s not to say the rest of the album is dull. “Older” is a honky-tonk sing-along without the cheese that ruins most country music, and the melancholy “Evening Kitchen” finds beauty in the sadness of disappointment.
But, too many of the tracks on the album stay within BoH’s comfort zone, staying mellow, pleasant, and mundane. The title track is one long, calming swoon, which would be nice on a sunset drive, but acts as a lullaby during all other times. “Blue Beard” bores and “Way Back Home” doesn’t pick up until the tambourine kicks in at the end.
As a complete listen, fans of Cease to Begin will enjoy Infinite Arms as it plays in the background, but for those who want to be engaged by the music they listen to, cherry-pick the upbeat tracks and save the rest for naptime.