Review : Band of Horses - Mirage Rock
AllmusicAfter landing a Best Alternative Music Album Grammy nomination for 2010's dizzying Infinite Arms, Seattle, Washington-via-South Carolina-based indie Americana outfit Band of Horses felt the pressure to make their fourth studio outing something truly special. Preferring to take a more grounded approach this time around, the group tapped legendary producer Glyn Johns (the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Clash, Led Zeppelin, Traffic), who helped rein in some of the group's more experimental tendencies by insisting on a more intimate live approach. The resulting Mirage Rock, which was preceded by the single "Knock, Knock," arrived in September 2012....full text
BbcYou wonder where music would be without love to inspire it. The biological impulse to breed (or not even quite that), the longing, the despair, the crushed dreams. This atomic bomb of emotions has been the spur to so many songs.
Songs about love are immediate. They touch us, we empathise, we relish the candour. Heartbreak on the 101 is just such a song. This break-up lament concludes Mirage Rock with some style. Ben Bridwell's purred lyrics let us into his world, and this unlocking of a secret door is one of Band of Horses' selling points. They follow in a long tradition of winsome American troubadours, reminiscing about broken hearts with a guitar and a frown, from Woody Guthrie to Neil Young.
And even more successful moments emerge on this, the band's fourth album. Two upbeat affairs stand out in particular. On Feud, Bridwell wails “I want you to faaail,” and we are caught in agreement with him: whatever and whoever wronged him should be righted. Knock Knock is the album's other bookend, a glorious stomp kicking off proceedings, lifted from the ordinary by spectacular choruses. Its chutzpah impresses. This is a resolutely American record.
But throughout Mirage Rock there is a sense that perhaps too much has been thrown into the mix – a common problem as bands get bigger and inevitably splash more dollar bills on studio indulgences. Bridwell seems like the kind of guy who might well yell: “I got a fever... and the only prescription is more cowbell!” Cowbell, thankfully, is not writ large on this record. Proggy meanderings, sadly, sometimes are....full text
ThephoenixMirage Rock kicks off with an oddly agreeable "wooo-ooo" from singer/guitarist Ben Bridwell on "Knock Knock," a fun and energetic opening song for this mostly gentle album. Mirage Rock might as well be the name of a new airy-rock subgenre, with luscious, echoey story-tunes rolling in like a soft mirage-inducing mountain fog. Tunes like "A Little Biblical," "Long Vows," and "Heartbreak on the 101" are imbued with confident patience and autumnal comfort, perfect for this (essentially) early-fall album. Bridwell's darkly poetic songwriting shines bright, the swirling wordplay matching his intricate harmonies. Having perfected the damp, woodsy vibe — as on "Slow Cruel Hands of Time," Mirage Rock's finest autumnal offering — the band offer a refreshing shift with "Feud" and the middle section of the snarky "Dumpster World," both of which emphasize their punk-rock side and suggest the feel of the band's live shows. They wear their influences proudly — rocking out like the Wallflowers or Ryan Adams on "How To Live," flashing some Dylan skills on "Slow Cruel Hands of Time" and whispering like CSNY on parts of "Dumpster World" — but then they'll float away like the fog they rode in on, reminding us they truly are the bearded Band of Horses....full text
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