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Band of Horses - Things Are Great Music Album Reviews

Band of Horses - Things Are Great Music Album Reviews
Band of Horses’ sixth album unexpectedly delivers on all the qualities that defined their initial success: soaring emotions, crunchy guitars, and Ben Bridwell’s cotton-candy whine.

There are bands that naturally decline over time, and then there are bands that fall off with such speed and determination you wonder if they ever even had a grasp on their own appeal. In the wake of Band of Horses’ breakout 2006 debut Everything All the Time, Ben Bridwell did all he could to make sure its magic couldn’t be replicated, first by stripping the group of all other original members, and then by shifting away from spikey, Pacific Northwest indie rock in favor of mellow, Southern-hued country rock. That reinvention might have been more tolerable if they’d had another showstopper like “The Funeral” in them, but as 2010’s major label debut Infinite Arms and 2012’s Mirage Rock made stubbornly clear, this band no longer did anthems.

No other marquee indie act of their era seemed as eager to abandon what made them so beloved in the first place. Yet recently Bridwell has been more open about admitting that, yeah, he probably lost the plot for a while. Produced by Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, 2016’s Why Are You OK was the band’s most overtly “indie” record since their time on Sub Pop, although it was too fussy and self-consciously experimental to recreate the uncomplicated pleasures of their early records. Things Are Great avoids that high-minded trap. Recorded after yet another lineup change, it’s evidence of how intrinsically likable this band can still be, a back-to-basics record without the sense of retreat that term usually implies.

Alongside assists from Lytle and Dave Fridmann, who give these songs the expected heft, Bridwell co-produced Things Are Great himself with intentions of honoring the band’s rough edges. As Bridwell now explains it, he had previously tried to disguise his own untrained playing by employing seasoned musicians and expensive studios. In the process, he sanded over some of the impulsivity and odd tunings that made their early output so alluring. “Looking back I realize the way I played guitar was the main identity of the band,” he says.

There’s something unsatisfying about that explanation, especially the idea that, all this time, another good Band of Horses album was just one a-ha moment and flip of the switch away. Yet Things Are Great supports his claims, delivering on all the qualities that carried the band’s first couple of records: soaring emotions, crunchy guitars, the unabashed stickiness of Bridwell’s cotton-candy whine.

The album’s title is sarcastic, as Things Are Great makes clear right off the bat on “Warning Signs,” which opens the album with Bridwell in the midst of a medical and mental crisis. “Small talk with a registered nurse/Not to cry in front of people at work/Well that’s hard, hard, hard,” he sings, his unsteady yowl never sounding more like Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch. The music, too, has re-embraced Built to Spill’s sense of dishevelment, that belief that disorderly feelings call for similarly untidy songs.

Bridwell’s lyrics can be plainspoken to a fault, but here he casts some memorable images. On “Aftermath,” he taps into parental anxiety with an account of falling down the stairs while holding a child. In the tender “In Need of Repair,” he is “sitting in my usual chair feeling the walls around me,” but he still musters the energy to console an old pal who’s going through more shit than he is. He’s less interested in the specifics of traumas than the way people cope with them.

That all may sound heavy, but Things Are Great’s melodies are so breezy, its guitars so giddy with uplift, that these songs sound carefree in spite of their subject matter. It helps, too, that Bridwell often disarms his lyrics with gentle whimsy. Even when he takes that spill with a kid in his arms, he sees the humor in it (“Say what’s that over there?/It’s the baby and me tumbling down the stairs”). The result is a record that’s personable to a degree even defenders of Band of Horses’ last few releases might be surprised by, an album that restores not only the pulse of their first album but also the indelible sense of safety and coziness. Even when Bridwell’s woords read like a Facebook post from a friend who is not OK, his music comforts like a second slice of pie in front of the fireplace.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Band of Horses - Things Are Great Music Album Reviews Band of Horses - Things Are Great Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 Rating: 5

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