Saturday, June 11, 2016

Band of Horses - Infinite Arms (2010)

By Helina Tera

Band of Horses is an American rock band formed in 2004. The band has undergone a lot of changes in its lineup but current members are Ben Bridwell (who is also the founder of the band), Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey, Bill Reynolds and Creighton Barrett. The current members, however, have all been in the band several years for now. 

They have given out 5 studio albums, last one very recently, in June, 2016, but they already reached to fame with the first one, "Everything All The Time", released in 2006, which included their hit song "The Funeral". It has been played in numerous tv shows, advertisements, films, video games etc.

Their third studio album, "Infinite Arms", came out in 2010, it consists of 12 songs. The album proved a major international success for the band. It is their most successful album so far and it is even Grammy-nominated. Bridwell has said that for him, this is the first Band of Horses album, because its the first time their members aren’t changing, everyone belongs there and he is proud to call the band a real one. 

"Infinite Arms" is also my personal favourite, because somehow it deeply touches the soul with its cozy, homely feel. Its like you can feel a whole in everything – they seem to be really comfortable with their style - every song is made with ultimate ease and every vocal melts perfectly with one another. The best way I can describe it would be that it can give a christmassy, warm feeling during the hottest, sunniest summer day. Also, their ability to create imagery without any visuals, just sound, is remarkable.

The album starts off with "Factory". It is different from the album's overall style, because in addition to the band’s already diverse instrument selection, it has several trumpets, tuba and strings played in by guest musicians. For me, it has this „finally arriving home“ sound to it, which goes perfectly with Bridwell’s words of the band being "real" at last. Right away you can get the idea of how flowy and tender their style is, a combination of classical rock, indie and folk. 

The second song is called "Compliments". It’s a bit more raw, than the last one, the guitars and the beat are somehow rougher and overall style has more energy. Still, very enjoyable, and the polyphony, which has always been peculiar to their style, makes the song considerably soft and comforting to the ears.

"Laredo" is the kind of song you would want to hear on the radio, when driving to the beach on a lovely summer day with no worries on your mind. Just imagine scrolling down the car  windows, turning up the volume, closing your eyes(unless you are imagining yourself to the driving seat) and enjoying the mellow sound. Even if considering how melancholic the lyrics are, it doesn’t come up as a sad song.

The beginning of "Blue Beard" feels just as if it was to grow to be something bigger, but then settles down real quick. It’s astonishing how perfectly every vocal and every tune melts together with such ease. The song has bit of a developing build up yet every variation comes as peacefully as it could.

Every album could use a gaudy piece, and it’s no different in the case of Band of Horses. "On My Way Back Home" isn’t as flowy as the previous tracks. It feels like a wake up after a heartfelt dream. Definitely not one of my favourites and probably would skip on a shuffle, but when listening as a whole, it works alright. 

Halfway through the album comes one of my long time favourites called "Infinite Arms". When the album came out in 2010, it was the song I kept on repeat for weeks and to this day, I still understand why. It’s simply beautiful, a song for the nights of starry skies. The verses give the song tenderness and the culminations at the end of the verses give the song its force.

"Dilly", similar to "On My Way Way Back Home", doesn’t have the faraway vibe to it. It sounds commercial, not in a bad way, but just somehow out of place, considering the album overall. But there isn’t good without..a bit less good, I guess?

With background female vocals and touching lyrics, "Evening Kitchen" is a beautiful, warmhearted love song. The conflict between two lovers can really be felt, just as if you were one of them. The song is very calm and slow, but doesn’t have a dragging effect. It is definitely one of the stronger ones on the album.

The diversity of Band of Horses doesn’t ever seem to disappoint – "Older" is one hundred percent a country song, which gives it a worn-in, snug feeling. It is more melancholic than other songs, but not in a sad, but rather in a longing way. 

"For Annabelle" is like a mixture between "Infinite Arms" and "Evening Kitchen". It is definitely a love song and has a very powerful yet dreamy beat. The beginning sounds somewhat baroque to me, and then culminates to the good old Band of Horses. The song has a way of creating a place in one’s mind where one can escape from the daily routine of everyday life. 

Near to the end, the album takes a 180 degree turn with "NW Apt.". It is very different from everything so far. The previous songs have a warm, cozy countryside feel, but this one straight up reminds me of busy city life. With its constant upbeat tempo and rich energy, it might be just the kind of rocker needed to pick one up from drowning too deep into the dreaminess.

To end the album with absolute perfection, there is a six-minute long masterpiece called "Neighbor". At first, it’s a proper lullaby but then the addition of the piano gives the song a lot of strength and intensity. Halfway through it, there is a breaking point where the song becomes exactly what you would expect from the last song of the album. A powerful, shivers-down-the-spine ending. 

Overall, I would say that the album is really really good, nearly perfect. Although there are a couple of songs I wouldn’t normally listen to, in the album context I still like them. It is definitely the kind of album one should listen to from the beginning to the end, to get the idea of it, and since it’s just 45 minutes long, it’s not that hard to do. But considering the time limit, it still manages to take one’s mind to so many different places. It’s the ultimate go-to album for taking some time out and just relaxing. 

No comments: