Album Review: Band Of Horses – ‘Infinite Arms’ (Columbia)

Soft and tender country-inflected comfort blanket rock from Seattle. The perfect tonic for the times

It can’t be much fun being an American right now. Quite apart from all the baggage that comes with, you know, being an American, you have to contend with an economic downturn that makes our own look like we’re just a little bit short until payday. There’s also a sudden but non-coincidental rise in extreme right-wing gun-nut militias who don’t much care for black presidents, and the fact that the rest of the world hates you.

But, in troubled times, certain people still prosper – it might not be a great time for the liberal small business owner, but it’s a great time to be an American country-rock combo – when your potential listenership feels adrift in the modern era, a hapless plaything buffeted by the tremors of collapsing banks, a little intimacy and calming pastoralism goes a long way. So, in a very real sense, we can thank inept investment bankers for [a]Fleet Foxes[/a].

And in such troubled times, Seattle’s Band Of Horses are like a lovely, comforting lumberjack shirt, and ‘Infinite Arms’ sees them doing exactly what they do, beguilingly and delightfully. No great leaps forward from ‘Everything All The Time’ and ‘Cease To Begin’, just lovely, warm-hearted, full-throated harmonies and gentle melancholy. The title track is the stand-out, guitar strings creating the shimmering effect of heat rising off boiling asphalt, and there are similarly charming jollies to be gleaned from the lolloping, languid ‘Older’, the rollicking bar-room balls-out rawk of ‘Northwest Apartment’, the painfully soft, tender rock (as opposed to ‘soft rock’) of ‘Blue Beard’, and the incongruously jolly, High Llamas-esque ‘Compliments’, which comes over a bit like a weeping, heartbroken drunkard at the bar suddenly pausing to tell you a really funny joke.

So if you’re a bewildered, alienated blue-collar American adrift on the ebb-tide of the technological era in a land you no longer recognise, you’ve just found your life-raft. The good news is, the rest of us can enjoy it too.

Pete Cashmore

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Click here to get your copy of Band Of Horses’ ‘Infinite Arms’ from the Rough Trade shop

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