Band Of Horses // Mirage Rock // September 17 // Columbia
Band Of Horses have fell off man. Their 2010 effort Infinite Arms has made them semi-mainstream rock stars while sacrificing the gritty edge they had on their first two records released on the legendary Sub Pop. Southern rock influences considered, it’s no wonder that some people have called Kings Of Leon on this band and wrote them off. They’re back with their 4th LP Mirage Rock and hey, it’s no Only By The Night, it jumps straight to Come Around Sundown.
Band Of Horses come from the north west which has a great tradition of spawning bands that can combine country storytelling about love and little towns with rock instrumentation that both rocks out and pays tribute to bonfire folk. Mirage Rock is not going to disappoint in the choice of genre or instrumentation, it’s exactly the sort of stuff that one would expect from this band. It’s not a further dumbing down of their sound to sell to the wider masses. But while it’s not disappointment, it can easily be seen as a little bit underwhelming. Too many tracks on here linger in the night instead of dazzling. Mirages aren’t real but too many tracks on here like A Little Biblical and Shut-In Tourist aren’t willing to imagine anything outside band’s comfort zone which makes the record seem a little bit flat and well, nothing like a mirage.
Flatness is also present throughout the song choices. The first single Knock Knock may have promised an interesting ramshackle of southern rock but the rest off the album is marred by so many MOR songs that the few unexpected rock out moments just feel wrong. Dumpster World spends half of its time being the most sedated song on here before breaking out arena guitars for a minute just to fizzle out and finish without any sort of a bang. After releasing their debut LP Everything All The Time Band Of Horses have re-established themselves in South Carolina. Their previous two albums felt like the journey across America. Cease To Begin was full of expectation and excitement while Infinite Arms was a weary record recorded by nomads. Mirage Rock sounds like a band settled down and deep in their own daily ruitine. The most fun filled moments on here are also the cheesiest. There’s the honky tonk rock of Electric Music taken straight out of wild west saloon while Felt is a legitimate rocker, albeit one that doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
This is where Mirage Rock runs out of tricks with last few tracks retreating to the familiar uninspired love song category with little to no personality. Lyrically way too many songs on here predictable. Felt is the only track that displays some sort of anger which is an unusual emotion for the band that can be way too one dimensional. It’s a fitting end to a record that claims its passion for adventure but in reality wants to settle down and stick to the familiar. Mirage Rock is not bad when put against other examples of southern rock this year. It’s better than Infinity Arms but considering just how much the band has seen in their life, the state of their existence now is riddled with way too much monotony that doesn’t make them very likeable or enjoyable.