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Band of Horses: Infinite Arms 

I first heard Band of Horses playing at the Les Schwab Amphitheater four years ago playing over the PA between sets of a Flaming Lips show. I ended up spending the summer of 2006 listening to their debut, Everything All The Time, and almost nothing else.

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I first heard Band of Horses playing at the Les Schwab Amphitheater four years ago playing over the PA between sets of a Flaming Lips show. I ended up spending the summer of 2006 listening to their debut, Everything All The Time, and almost nothing else.
About a year later, Band of Horses released the highly anticipated follow up, Cease to Begin. The album lacked the grandiose spectrum embedded in their debut and sounded like outtakes from previous recordings. I'm still not sure if it was a result of co-founding member Mat Brooke leaving, but it became uncomfortably clear, Band of Horses may have little left to offer.

If you're new to this band, Infinite Arms may whisk you away. The use of schmaltzy strings ("Factory") and down-tempo ballads ("Blue Beard," "Way Back Home" and "Infinite Arms") will surely impress casual music listeners. But, if you've been hoping for a return to epic lifts, heart-on-the-sleeves intimacy, Ben Bridwell's explosive range once displayed early on by this band, you'll only find the slightest of remnants on this album.
Infinite Arms does offer some sunny moments ("Compliments", "Laredo") bounded by Bridwell's attempt for the rafters. But as the album continues, even the front man sounds slightly disinterested. Infinite Arms flirts with intriguing hooks, melodies and occasional harmony ("Dilly"), but as a whole it's mostly forgettable.
No one can argue that Bridwell doesn't possess an exciting voice. The problem is that Band of Horses writes generalized stories, and it used to be that no matter how obscure the lyrics were, you wanted to lose yourself in them and pretend to sing along. After a half-dozen listens, the high-school lyricism and middle-of-the-road musicianship on Infinite Arms are too prevalent to pretend there's something here besides a great voice.

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