Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Album Review: Band of Horses- Why Are You OK

Band of Horses
Why Are You OK
**and1/2 out of *****

For the last few records Band of Horses has produced some Crosby Stills and Nash levels indie folk and while there is more energy present in their newest release Why Are You OK, a dull sense of boredom has also creeped onto the disk. Produced by Jason Lytle of Grandaddy who tries to spice things up with some freak-out details (conversations happening just behind songs, the odd fluttering space oddity) but the band seems to have been there and done this all before.

It opens with the combo of "Dull Times/The Moon" trying to encapsulate all of the better aspects of Band of Horses, but does it with two total different tracks, Frankenstein-ing them into one long effort. The two parts would be more interesting if the harder electric rock of The Moon was worked into Dull Times, but the band hasn't done that truly successfully for a few albums now.

Brian Bridwell still maintains one of the prettiest voices in rock and roll and he manages to pull off the same trick as late day David Byrne; singing bland lyrics, gloriously. The words could mean nothing (and often they feel like they do) but the overall sound of things is hypnotic in an easy guitar folk way and that lets the album roll by effortlessly if not memorably.

The band actually feels the most energized and fresh when they up their country twang by injecting a shuffle and some buzzing guitars. "Country Teen" is a winner, surprisingly (all though his songs where the highlight of Mirage Rock as well) sung by Tyler Ramsey. "Throw My Mess" also gets a southern injection of South Carolina stomp, showing the possibility for this band to break out more steel guitars and upbeat country numbers.  

The overly dramatic tracks go nowhere, such as "Hag" and "Barrel House" weighing down the disk. Most songs run in the four and half minute range, but because of sparse instrumentation they can feel even longer and drag. Both "Casual Party" and "Solemn Oath" try to amp up the musical energy while lyrically dealing with what sounds like the beginning and the middle of a bad break up.

Closer "Even Still" goes back to the long winded but pleasant dramatic songwriting but it is the oddball pop of "In A Drawer" that may sum up this record best. The group brings in a friend, none other than J. Masics to help sing on the chorus which is a bit maddening; if you have one of the best rock guitarists alive helping out (also one clearly not known for his vocals), how about having him play his ax and add some new life to your songs? It is these decisions that lead to an overall frustrated experience regarding Why Are You OK and while not a bad record it still comes off as a disappointment.
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We here at RtBE love BoH and have written about them, but this one wasn't our favorite. Still, support the band, buy the record and peep some video below. They also play Summer Stage for our NYC readers on Thursday and we will be there.

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