Plumbiferous Media

Infinite Arms – Band of Horses

May 23rd 2010
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Infinite Arms - Band of HorsesBand of Horses
Infinite Arms
Score: 37

Band of Horses released its third album, Infinite Arms, earlier this week. Their first under the Columbia label, Infinite Arms is a diverse, unique, and surprisingly unsatisfactory album. Certainly not the band’s best work, one can only hope that in the future, Band of Horses puts a good deal more thought into each track, rather than just thinking of the album as a whole.

Despite the wide variety of instruments used by Band of Horses (anything from guitar to theremin), tracks on Infinite Arms are just not that interesting. In general, the pattern, for both melodies and accompanying parts, seems to be to choose extremely simple lines to repeat for the entire track, and then barely, if ever, deviate from that point. Not only is this entirely uninteresting, in many cases, the instruments simply do not work with one another (most obviously on “Factory”). There are some instances where tracks develop somewhat from beginning to end, including “Way Back Home,” and these tracks unsurprisingly turn out significantly better than the rest, but the presence of such tracks is severely limited.

Ben Bridwell’s vocals are most likely meant to sound energetic and just the slightest bit ethereal, for a well-formed contrast with the instrumentals. Unfortunately, they miss that mark by a good bit. Instead, Bridwell’s voice tends to sound thoroughly ordinary – that incredibly generic mixture of rock and folk vocals that does little more than let you know it’s there. A slight whine is the only distinguishing element, and it’s not the positive sort of distinguishment. On top of that, Bridwell never leaves the pattern that his voice has fallen into by the end of the first track. Instead, he falls into a set of uninteresting ebbs and flows that do very little for the album.

Lyrically, Infinite Arms runs the gamut between mundane and bizarre. While “No one is ever gonna love you more than I do” isn’t exactly unique, “I had a dream / That I was your neighbor / About to give birth” is. Unfortunately, it’s not the sort of uniqueness that would demonstrate profound creativity on the part of Band of Horses. Rather, it’s the sort that indicates that the band’s replaced creativity with inanity. Though that’s only one of quite a few sections that display such lyrical failings, it’s a good example of how little sense much of Infinite Arms makes.

Complements must, in all fairness, be given to certain aspects of the album as a whole. Though little thought was evidently put into crafting each track, Infinite Arms was well designed. Each track is quite unique, imparting a healthy level of diversity to the album. Unfortunately, given Infinite Arms‘s failings, the most that can be said is that if each track were not soporific, the album as a whole would certainly not have been.

To put it simply – Infinite Arms does nothing especially well. It combines uninspired instrumentals, alternately irritating and dull vocals, and absolutely nonsensical lyrics to come up with something that is, while not quite terrible, certainly not good. Though Band of Horses’ earlier work hasn’t been exactly revolutionary (thanks largely to many of these same problems), Infinite Arms is certainly a step down from the band’s last two albums. Perhaps the group’s fourth album will be truly interesting – but we’re not holding our breath.

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