Infinite Arms is the third studio album from Band of Horses, and it immediately jumps out compared to their last effort as infinitely more mainstream. Whereas Cease to Begin is an incredibly moody record, even paralyzingly so at times, Infinite Arms decides to switch canoes midstream and head into a new, more accessible direction.
It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff overall, but it is an album that is packed with a great deal of solid, unique tracks. The shift from indie to mainstream is sizable, but this isn’t an album of a band trying to emulate the career path of another band. This is an album that will find Band of Horses losing one hardcore fan upset with the shift and gaining ten in their place who discovered the band with this album.
Ben Bridwell’s vocals are once again a large focus of the album, and they are never once lacking in their signature Neil Young-esque tenor. At times the vocals are mesmerizing enough along with the soothing guitar work that the album seems to be elevating well above itself. Bridwell’s vocals are like an athlete in the “zone”. They can do no wrong.
A key to Band of Horses is their mid-range to ballad speed. It’s an acquired taste for many, but Infinite Arms does prove itself as a really good, slow simmering, moody album to go along with the rest of their catalog. However, those expecting a complete return to Everything All The Time are in for a little bit of a queezy feeling. They actually seem to be headed in the opposite direction.
Soaring harmonies and slower tunes infest this album, and the entire thing has a nice vintage Americana, introspective Cameron Crowe film soundtrack sound to it. It’s got enough balance between twang and rock, slow and midtempo, that it never tends to trend in one particular direction over the other. It’s a very even keeled album, and one that enjoys a solid replay value.
Fans of the band might be split on their acceptance of this album, but I happen to be on the side that quite enjoys it for how different it is. Infinite Arms is sure to be a landmark album for Band of Horses for a variety of reasons. It could prove to be a sink or swim album, one that separates them from their long held indie cred and into mainstream adulation. Which seems to be a choice they’ve already made.
Final Score: 7/10 (Good)