Spun: Band of Horses

By Garth Paulson

Sigh. You’d think fashion-conscious hipsters and internet music dorks wouldn’t need another band to swoon over, but then again The Arctic Monkeys got big, Wolf Parade got old and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were always too close to the Talking Heads for their own good. So the call went out for another unfortunately named group to keep the indie hype machine pumping out absurd praise and it was answered by Band of Horses with their debut album Everything all the Time. Despite their tenuous status as the Next! Big! Thing! and the media swarm attached to the distinction, Band of Horses are frustratingly good.

Your immediate reaction is to dislike Everything before even letting it have a spin in your CD player, if only because everybody everywhere is telling you to love this album. If you can get past this initial reaction though, you’ll find an earnest and endearing pop album. Unlike many of their over-hyped peers, the band doesn’t offer a shred of pretension on Everything, instead they craft a simple album based around ’60s pop hooks with a country flair. This description may sound like the result of a meeting between The Shins and My Morning Jacket but it’s apt. Like both groups, Band of Horses aren’t out to change music or provide you with a life changing experience–no matter what Natalie Portman might think. Instead their songs sound like lost treasures you cherished one summer not long ago and have only recently remembered.

Saying Everything all the Time doesn’t break any new ground doesn’t mean band lacks skill. Little flourishes punctuate each song, whether in the form of a subtle guitar part, a demanding piano progression or some fun with the banjo, hinting the band could go insanely arty at any turn. What makes Everything such is a success is how it never succumbs to this possibility, leaving you thinking something extraordinary is going to happen and then being delighted when it doesn’t.

Considering the buzz, Everything all the Time should be a disappointing, middle-of-the-road flop. By playing with these expectations, Band of Horses have made an album strong enough to remind freak-folk scenesters and new new-wavers with uneven hair of the simple beauty of a three minute pop song and a bit of twang.

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