By Jon Stone | @jwstone - May 31, 2010
If 2007 hadn't been so gigantic musically, Band of Horses' Cease to Begin could have easily been the best album of the year. Nearly every song on the band's sophomore release is memorable and remains one of my most revisited records. Cease to Begin succeeds because it kept the band's now-trademark sunny sound of the debut (2005's Everything All the Time) but expanded on it with both increased sonic variety and, most importantly, with great, catchy melodies. Need a refresher? How about "Is There a Ghost". Remember now?
This month the band released Infinite Arms and I wish I could say that it was as consistent. It's good, quite good, even. You hope, though, when a band jumps off a label like Sub Pop and onto one like Columbia that you won't be able to hear it on the record. Or, conversely, that you will because an increased budget will mean more time to let things develop and distill. I think you get a bit of this during Infinite Arms's lush midsection: "Blue Beard", "Way Back Home" and "Infinite Arms" stretch out, breathe deep, and will make for perfect, lazy, summer jams this year ("Trudy" a bit later, has this same affect). I'm afraid, however, that the label change in addition to frequent line-up changes over the last few years has left Ben Bridwell and crew playing it safe rather than pushing it forward.
I'm not giving up on this band, though. Like I said earlier, I think this record is, if nothing else, a great summer album. Bridwell's voice is so good and you can bet it's going to be pouring out of my front door often this summer while I sit on my porch watching the kids ride bikes and eat a hundred popsicles.