Album Review: Band of Horses ‘Mirage Rock’
This band is almost completely different from the Band of Horses who made their mark with their 2005 debut, Everything All the Time. Lineup changes have come with each of their four releases up until now, when for the first time the band has managed to hold a lineup together. The result should be a refined and maturing sound, right?
The record just doesn’t have the presence that it should, and these guys have proven themselves more capable in the past. Here they feel like tourists of music, just sort of passing by and making Band of Horses-like sounds that don’t really resonate. It’s not an album that a lot of people are going to be very passionate about, and a band of this build cannot afford to be relegated to background music.
The first single and opening track, “Knock Knock,” is pleasant enough, and if I ended my review right here you would probably have a complete picture of the album as a whole. It’s a poppy, but plodding song. This stable, comfortable version of the band feels complacent, or even bored.
It’s not a bad record, but it is a disappointment. Things become decisively more southern-rock, but without the big riffs that make the genre impactful. When the band is at its best on Mirage Rock they are somewhere between the indie darlings of old and Neil Young minus Crazyhorse. That may read like high praise, but how good would any Neil Young album be if he didn’t seem to mean a word he sang?
“A Little Biblical” feels like an opportunity lost. It has a very strong pop structure, but the band plays it cool and quiet, seeming to intentionally stop the track from breaking through. It has the sound of a surf rock song in its lazy, jangling approach, which would be a great fit for this band if they could let their songs breathe more.
“Dumpster World” features a strangely forced aggression which comes across as if mocking its own message. The words are humorous and awkward, which is completely unintentional, and as a result the song is almost embarrassing to behold.
The album picks up a bit in its dying moments, but it is almost certainly too little, too late. They lean back towards the indie end of their sound and it all begins to work again, but neither “Electric Music” nor “Feud” are good enough to single-handedly pull this record up and out of the muck.
When all is said and done, Mirage Rock actually feels like the perfect title for this album. They have slightly bent existing genres into their own style of rock music, but it feels quite fake and insubstantial. When the last notes play your life will go on like the record never existed; as if it was all just a mirage.
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Image Courtesy of Columbia