Thursday, October 25

Band of Horses Cease to Excell

Artist: Band of Horses
Album: Cease to Begin

Comments: Band of Horses is the answer to a question that no one ever asked; what would happen if My Morning Jacket and U2 had a baby? Taking the woodsy jam rock of MMJ and the grand guitars of the Edge, Band of Horses found success on their 2006 release Everything All the Time, an album that somehow managed to have a stadium grandness while maintaining a soft, intimate feeling one might find walking in the woods alone. That album could be played at parties or at late night snuggle-fests with equal success. One year later, the equestrienne collective have returned with Cease to Begin, an album that doesn’t detract from their sound, but doesn’t do much to move the band forward sonicly.

The album has a promising start, opening with the rocker “Is There a Ghost.” The grunge groove of the song sounds triumphant, as if Band of Horses has never been more confident in their craft. Lyrically, it’s a turd of a song, but the celebratory nature of the track makes it one of the best on the album.

With such a rocking opener, one would expect the album to be nothing but fist pumping anthems of love and success. However, after that first track, the album falls into a droning funk of groovy tunes that all sound nice, but never establish themselves. This has been the problem with Band of Horses; too many of their songs can run together. On Everything All the Time it wasn’t much of a problem because there were always standout tracks that would break up the muddy drone of the guitar. Sadly, there are no such songs to break up this four song mire on Cease to Begin, and the album progresses with a sense of repetitive acceptance. It isn’t that the songs don’t sound good, they just all sound too similar to matter.

The plus side is that the songs that break up the monotony on Cease to Begin sound even better in stark contrast with the droning middle of the album. Islands on the Coast,” for example, is a hurried little rocker that propels the sometimes sluggish album. Elsewhere, the jumpy folk of “The General Specific” is a treat for the ears. Driven by a 60s style handclap beat and the yearning Neil Young-esque vocals of lead singer Ben Bridwell, “The General Specific” is a country sing-a-long for city living, and one of the most fun tracks on the record.

While not a step forward, Cease to Begin is a good second album for Band of Horses. By maintaining their lush sonic density and earthy tenderness, the band is able to grow up some in their music, even at the loss of some fun. What is really impressive about Band of Horses is how they are able to capture the subtle beauty of nature in their music. If Everything all the Time was a snowstorm that blanketed the woods, Cease to Begin is the morning after. Long, smooth, sometimes daunting, but always beautiful, Band of Horses is able to stay the course. Still, it wouldn’t hurt the band to stop admiring the snow so much and just make some friggin’ snow angels. After all, what’s the use in beauty if you can’t enjoy it?

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Key Tracks: Is There a Ghost, The General Specific, Islands on the Coast

Worth The Money: Nope, but I recommend their first album, Everything all the Time.

1 comment:

Casondra said...

Keep up the good work.