This might be the album to introduce them to Kings of Leon-sized audiences.
Will Dean 2010
With a move to Columbia from the Sub Pop label that helped spawn them, someone is wagering that the South Carolina-via-Seattle beards of Band of Horses will soon be swelling in stubbly popularity to Kings of Leon-sized proportions.
Those hopes are self-evident in the tone of this album. As soon as the bombastic strings of Factory (coming soon to a World Cup montage near you) sweep into view, there's a feeling that this is to be Ben Bridwell and company's big breakthrough. And hopefully it might be, as there's plenty to like here – Factory for start, as well as the fleet-footed Way Back Home, which sounds like it's convinced itself it's going to metamorphose into Sloop John B at any moment. There's Blue Beard, which "la-la oohs" prettily before going into a middle-eight that sounds like the Starland Vocal Band's Afternoon Delight, of all things.
Then there's the beautiful piano and keys which make the closing track Neighbor sound like a moment of deathly realisation in a Cormac McCarthy novel. That feeling is helped by the line, "once upon a town in a border town". Yep, there's plenty of country for these young men.
There's something not quite as cutting about Infinite Arms as Band of Horses' previous efforts, though. The overall tone is more the choral country of tracks like Cease to Begin's Detlef Schrempf and of peers like Midlake and Fleet Foxes, rather than the sharp heights of Everything All the Time's The Funeral and Cease to Begin's Is There a Ghost? The title-track flirts with dreariness, as do lines as lines as lumpen as "the Midwestern sky is grey and cold". We can forgive them that, though. Fans of the band, and those with a rustling liking for a certain kind of beard-here-now Americana, will devour this like a bottle of the Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler referenced on the last track.