- by Nathan Fidler Rating:6 Release Date:2016-06-10 Label:
Ten years in and Band of Horses are a fairly well known band now, with their fifth album Why Are You OK? It’s almost a sink or swim album. Mirage Rock didn’t go over so well, and the indie-americana of the noughties has lost some of it’s edge, but it’s been four years since then, so surely there is something else for them?
Things don’t get off to a new start on album number five, with ‘Dull Times/The Moon’ something of a mish-mash of two ideas. The first half meanders in their typical fashion, Ben Bridwell singing forlornly “put the garbage where it doesn’t belong”. The second half peps things up, more like their latest efforts, slamming chords and straightforward drumming - but it doesn’t hold too much attention.
There are a couple of gems on this album, that fact needs addressing. ‘Solemn Oath’ has a melody line hooting out, with gentle picking overlaid, while ‘Throw My Mess Around’ is a brief stomp which has the harmonised vocals on which most of their success has been made.
It’s not like they aren’t trying new things, ‘Hag’ has a cinematic width, with cooing keys and guitars, but that sound doesn’t impact much of the other songs and even self-contained, that single track doesn’t stretch the imagination very far.
One option open to this band is the move towards 60s and 70s pop or country, a Brian Wilson sound which is making something of a comeback. ‘Country Teen’ seems to be a play for this, but with drums and bass sounding like a preset keyboard demo, you’re ears are almost instantly turned off.
‘Casual Party’, ‘Lying Under Oak’ and ‘Whatever, Wherever’ are all bang average songs, none of them making much of a change or living long in the memory. Albums like ‘Cease To Begin’ and ‘Infinite Arms’ begged to played over and over, owing largely to the lovely harmonised vocals but the band seem to have done away with that sound (Brian Monroe on keys feels distinctly absent from their sound now).
There will be many, many albums out this year worse than Why Are You OK? but patient fans will be asking themselves why this album is only just “ok” after such a long wait.