Band of Horses Infinite Arms

Band of Horses Infinite Arms
Following in the footsteps of Pacific North-western peers like Elliot Smith, Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie, Seattle, WA quintet Band of Horses have decided to take that big step up to the major labels for the ever-important third album. It should have worked: the band have always had a sweeping, cinematic quality to their sound, and singer Ben Bridwell's trademark tenor howl has been primed for widespread acceptance by a number of forbearers, indie and otherwise. It's too bad then, that Infinite Arms is such an unsure, mixed bag of an album. Feeling as if they had to do something new, but weren't sure what, Band of Horses turned to the big book of major label album clichés for guidance and in doing so, tried to fix a bunch of things that, as the saying goes, "ain't broke." Cue the woozy strings on opener "Factory," the cheesy bounce of first single "Laredo," the tinny pop schmaltz of album centrepiece "Dilly" and an entire disc's worth of weepy, downtempo Americana genre exercises that might have worked if only the band themselves sounded convinced. Besides the ineffectual vocals ― Bridwell bafflingly sings most of Infinite Arms in his underwhelming middle register ― the album also suffers from overproduction and cluttered instrumentation, both telling indicators of major label transition jitters. Here's hoping that after these stuttered steps, Band of Horses find their legs for album number four. (Brown)