Band of Horses
Infinite Arms


3.5
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
May 19th, 2010 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nothing new to see here except a band making the most confident, assured work of their career.

It’s a bit weird looking at Band of Horses as a mainstay in the Americana genre nowadays when their acclaimed debut, Everything All The Time, came out a mere four years ago. But that’s what they’ve become, for better or worse – in the eyes of this reviewer, the latter, as I’ve never really been partial to anything the South Carolina-via-Seattle collective has put out. Perhaps that makes it a little odd, then, that Infinite Arms has resonated the strongest with me of all their efforts. I’m not sure what to blame this on, as Infinite Arms still sounds pretty much like both their previous albums. Frontman and main force Ben Bridwell still sounds like a slightly less expressive Jim James, the band still pumps out mellow, inoffensive rock ‘n roll with a country bent, and everything vaguely reeks of honeysuckle and crisp Northwestern air. Maybe I’m just getting old, but that’s just exactly what I like about it – how everything seems reinforced, like Bridwell has finally mastered pairing his songwriting gifts with the studio to create something that sounds perfectly in place, perfectly uniform, and perfectly together, like everything the band has aspired to previously but never quite reached.

It’s a sense of familiar comfort more than anything, but when I never really thought of Everything All The Time or Cease To Begin as anything great, it’s the subtle craftsmanship of the songs here that end up making Infinite Arms such a success. Opener “Factory” encapsulates this feeling better than anything else, swelling strings framing one of Bridwell’s most stately, heartbreaking melodies yet. Everything is just so damn epic, like something that would have fit well on the soundtrack to Cold Mountain or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Bridwell sounds more confident than he ever has, be it on the rollicking single “Compliments,” the starstruck haze of the title track, or the fearlessly country “For Annabelle.” Whether it’s Bridwell’s newfound fatherhood or just that he’s comfortable with where he wants Band of Horses to go (deep, deep into the American countryside), Infinite Arms never struggles to find its identity, never wanders about unsure of where to go. The harmonies are stronger, more layered; the music is more fleshed-out, creating a mellow, intimate atmosphere that is far better suited to driving along a backwoods road than listening in a dreary apartment; everything, indeed, is more sonically at rest, flowing rather than forced. Indeed, Bridwell is the real firebrand here, laying down his most versatile performance yet, but it’s a performance that never flies off the rails or lapses into lazy platitudes.

The same can’t be said for all the songs here, which maintain that same sense of loving attention to detail but occasionally meander about into mid tempo folk sludge. After the awesome throwback to ‘70s FM rock, “Dilly,” there’s an unfortunate sequence of tunes that tend to try too hard (“Older”) or simply bore (“Evening Kitchen”). Things pick up before the end with the raucous (by Band of Horses standards) “NW Apt.,” but the heart of the record lies in the first half, where the songs paint a picture more of feeling than of any particular image. It’s a feeling of familiarity, to be sure; Band of Horses is never going to be accused of being wild innovators like My Morning Jacket were with Evil Urges or entrenched, dyed-in-the-wool revivalists like Fleet Foxes. But is it so bad to master one’s craft, to whittle away on a song until it represents just what you want, what you’ve been aiming for your entire career? They’ll never be one of the greats, but Band of Horses have proved that they’ve near mastered the art of making quality, old-fashioned rock ‘n roll.



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user ratings (265)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Ian Hammons (3)
Infinite Arms shows Band of Horses attempting to integrate their haunting soundscapes with a more fo...


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2010


10436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

again, no idea why i like this relative to their previous records

Digging: Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

Douglas
May 19th 2010


9107 Comments


What do you rate their debut, so i can relate it to this?

Digging: The Preatures - Blue Planet Eyes

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2010


10436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

a 3 but i should probably listen to it again

Ponton
Emeritus
May 19th 2010


5793 Comments


oh yes, dude. Nice review. Agree on the rating too

AggravatedYeti
May 19th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

ya, I dunno.
its prob more a 3 than a 2.5 but I just don't feel like I ever want to go back to this again.
review is boss tho, as expected ;)

Photon
May 20th 2010


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah ..this gets boring after awhile

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2010


10436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

obsessed with dilly right now. 20+ listens

sniper
May 20th 2010


19050 Comments


Love that album cover. This band is pretty cool but have no staying power with me. I'll probably pick this up though.

Ponton
Emeritus
May 20th 2010


5793 Comments


This has already been posted in the news a week ago, but if anyone wants to easily check this out, here's a stream. There's some great tunes on this album:

http://www.spinner.com/new-releases#/2

burritoman
May 20th 2010


12 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Album cover is great. I don't feel the emotion behind the songs like i used to with their older work.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2010


23828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pretty interesting album. Not good enough to make me want to hear their other albums though.

Dryden
May 21st 2010


12928 Comments


r u sure

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2010


23828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

about what

battle2heaven
May 21st 2010


9 Comments


So gone are the epic songs like "the funeral" and "the great salt lake?"



klap
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2010


10436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

factory is pretty epic

AggravatedYeti
May 21st 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

but not as epic

Kashmir09
May 21st 2010


772 Comments


For some reason, this sounds tasty to me. I like their first two albums, but I don't love them. This one's catching my attention more than the first two

KebertXela
May 21st 2010


367 Comments


Good review but....

Infinite Arms still sounds pretty much like both their previous albums.


That sounds like something one of my friends who has heard like 4 of their songs might say.


But overall, good review.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2010


10436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i mean, it really does

AggravatedYeti
May 21st 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

youarecorrectsir!



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