Band of Horses Mirage Rock

Band of HorsesMirage Rock
After Band of Horses stormed out of the gate in 2006 with their fuzzy, PacNW-ish acclaimed debut, Everything All The Time, it left them with little wiggle room. That album's single, "The Funeral," was everything an indie anthem could be: anthemic, melodic and dynamic, shifting between loud and soft, fast and slow, with aplomb. The band's cleaner, tighter follow-up was enjoyable despite hardly expanding on Everything's template, and their third album and major-label debut, Infinite Arms, by desperately reaching for the stars (they're right there on the album cover!), fell hard on tired clichés and cheesy bombast. But at least Band of Horses were trying. Fourth album Mirage Rock is a bungled mess of poor production and half-assed songwriting. Ben Bridwell's usually soaring voice has turned reedy and wavering, as on ramshackle, feeble rocker "Knock Knock," and utterly emotionless ballad "Slow Cruel Hands of Time." As well, the guitar riffs and vocal refrains that once provided the band's songs with melodic backgrounds have been replaced with simplistic jangle and repetitive, lazy vocals. Infinite Arms might have been cringe-worthy, but at least it provoked a response. Band of Horses made Mirage Rock without giving a shit, so why should anyone else? (Columbia)