Sound: When we think of Band of Horses, songs like Is There a Ghost and "No One's Gonna Love You" immediately come to mind. The band's previous album, Cease to Begin, garnered much praise in the indie rock community for it's catchy guitar driven tunes and one-of-a-kind style. Luckily for the fans, Infinite Arms doesn't disappoint.
Infinite Arms presents itself as a very worthy successor to Cease to Begin. In simple terms, it kicks butt! Be warned though, expecting the new record to reflect Cease to Begin can be a little surprising. In fact it would probably be wise to toss everything you thought you knew about the band's sound (certain aspects of it at least) out the window. It almost seems like a metamorphosis. The faint hints of country/roots/folk from the previous album is magnified times five. Being as obvious as ketchup on a white shirt, the band gracefully sports their cowboy side in Infinite Arms.
Comparing Band of Horses to another group was never a successful task on my part. Every possibility was overshadowed by the fact that they sounded so unique and separate. With Infinite Arms I couldn't help but to notice a bit of a My Morning Jacket vibe. There is even an Iron and wine aura here and there. As a bonus, littered within the songs is that memorable atmosphere that fans fell for in Cease to Begin. The only thing that could really be commented on is that that familiar atmosphere didn't show up as much as I wanted it to. Facing the facts, Band of Horses has never been a lyrically dependent band. It was mainly the beautiful instrumentation that carried the mood of the songs. In Infinite Arms, lyrics become a more powerful part of the album.
The album sets the tone with Factory, a well crafted, melancholy song that immediately caught me off guard with it's folksy vibe. The representation of the album comes from Complements, the single. When you're thinking of a Band of Horses single you think No One's Gonna Love You, but I guarantee you that Complements will change that. Thankfully, Band of Horses doesn't waste the listeners times with recycled songs. You will be happy to know that each song offers a completely different experience. The album is generally slower paced when compared to Cease to Begin, but some songs really ease up like Blue Beard, for example. Every song is well produced with memorable moments and sing along choruses. I feel that the album is meant to be enjoyed as a whole, having no track that necessarily outshines another. // 8
Lyrics: The comparison is quite striking and pretty humorous. Sometimes I'm convinced that Jim James of My Morning Jacket is actually singing rather than actual vocalist Ben Bridwell. On a serious note, Bridwell's vocal talent truly shines in Infinite Arms. I've never really paid much attention to Bridwell's voice (it was always the catchy guitar or drum beats that stole most of the show) until now. Listening to Compliments with some buds, one of the first things I said was, man, this dude's got some good pipes. When you listen to the record the lyrics significantly add to the experience. Not trying to sound soft or anything, but I actually felt some of the sadness of Bridwell's words. Much of the lyrical elements talk about feelings of being lost and the loneliness of being away from home. // 8
Overall Impression: Infinite Arms isn't exactly the Band of Horses album that we'd expect (which is a little disappointing) but proves satisfying nonetheless. The record revolves around a unique sound that reminds me of My Morning Jacket. Infinite Arms can be a little shocking considering the amount of love given by fans of Cease to Begin. A few times listening through will keep the album growing on you. Maybe some Band of Horses fans will favor the old records better, but as much as I try to find a reason for disliking the album the songs keep on haunting my mind and I just eventually give in. Infinite Arms changes the way we'll think of Band of Horses. For the most part, those thoughts will be of acceptance and the possibility of another great album! // 9