Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Album Review: Band of Horses -Mirage Rock

Band of Horses 
Mirage Rock
***and1/2 out of *****
"Knock Knock" gets Mirage Rock started, rocking fashion, but that is not the path the rest of the album takes, and thus the title is perfectly apt.  Mirage Rock and Celebration Rock from Japandroids are two albums that you can instantly judge by their titles, a rare trait.  It is amazing how much Band of Horses channels the mellow vibe of 70's So-Cal rock of acts like Jackson Browne or more specifically CSNY on their newest release, this album could have just as easily come out in 74 as 2012.

The calling card of CSNY, and Band of Horses here, is the pristine vocal work and soothing melodies that float out behind them.  Ben Bridwell has one of the best front-men voices out there in popular rock today, and with Mirage Rock he has put together his most consistent lyrical effort, moving from scattered images and phrases to introspective thoughts and phrases. The best example is on the excellent "How To Live" singing here about real world issues convincingly and finishes the song with one of the best coming of age lines, "Guess what? You're growing old/Still gotta grow up" simple, direct and spot on.

The albums smooth sounds washes over the ears with perfect ease.  The gorgeous, past looking "Slow Cruel Hands Of Time" has a country fried twang as "A Little Biblical" holds on to a bit of easy listening swagger before "Electric Music" picks up speed out on the open road.  The Tyler Ramsey tune "Everything's Gonna Be Undone" is a simple ode that works beautifully in the context of the rest of the tracks connecting wonderfully with the aching album closing "Heartbreak On The 101".   

The only time the band gets noisy or loud is on the odd "Dumpster World" which probably contains the most interesting musical tone on the album, but the down right stupidest lyrics.  It is an odd one all around, proving the band can still rough it up a bit, but just toss away any sense of meaning with the weird words.  That along with the "Light-Fm'ish" feel at times are the only real detriments to a solid, if mellow, release.

The band already has a fantastic back catalog of music and hopefully they don't completely slip into middle age as a rocking Band of Horses still has just as much appeal as a Mirage Rock'ing one.             
RtBE loves Band of Horses immensely and will be seeing them 3 times in less then a week and this album is pretty great.  However, we really wanted to have the boys start messing up their musical backing with more angular riffs, maybe some feedback or distortion to go along with their fantastic vocals.  That was not the case as the group went even more mellow this time, but alas the end result is no means bad, just a bit different. 

The truth is we can't get enough of the band, so anything they are putting out we will probably like, but here's hoping they up the energy on the next release.  You should support this band here, catch them live here and Stream the full album below!

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