Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Everything All the Time

Band of Horses - Everything All the Time

Band of Horses
Sub Pop, 2006

Sounds Like: Indie rock, or what passes for indie rock these days.
For: Fans of The Arcade Fire.
Listen: Band of Horses - Monsters

There is something about this album that irks me, and I haven't quite been able to put my finger on it until now. I mean, I was excited to hear this album for a little while, based on the bits of Carissa's Wierd [sic] and S that I've heard, along with the couple of pre-album songs I've listened to, and the Tour EP that I got around to listening to two weeks ago. By the eve of the album's released, it had garnered a lot of praise, and I was charged to hear it. And, on first listen, I liked it. A lot.

On the second listen, something started to rub me the wrong way. And it took another five to figure out what that was.

The album, for all its good (and great) songs, memorable lines, and pure warmth, is just there. It is an inoffensive singer-songwriter album polished and dressed up to seem a bit more important than it really is. It is more focused and homogeneous than the group's earlier songs would have suggested (the traces of alt-country found in, say, "I Lost My Dingle On the Red Line" are all but completely absent here). Perhaps the blame lies in Phil Ek's (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Les Savy Fav) uncharacteristically powersander-and-lacquer production.

In TMT's review of the new Larsen album, Paul Haney jabs at "indie-rock" as "slowly becoming synonymous with inoffensive songwriter pop fluff for jaded yuppies." I think this album, for all its merits, is guilty of this charge. "St. Augustine" might come between Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens on the satellite radio Coffee Shop Mix, "Weed Party" could be on The O.C., and "Our Swords" will probably be on the soundtrack to Garden State 2: Jersey Boogaloo. That, however, does not undo the great bass riff driving the latter song, or the soaring majesty of "The Funeral," 2006's requisite mournfully yearning song. However, it does detract from the best moments on this album, like on the homey ballad "Monster," that seems to find the band most in their element. I can only hope that this band stumbles a bit on their way to success; their edges could use a bit of roughing up again.



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