Band of Horses: Mirage Rock

Written by September 14th, 2012 at 9:10 am

Band of Horses
Mirage Rock
(Columbia)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

You can take the songwriter out of South Carolina, but good luck trying to take South Carolina out of the songwriter. Ben Bridwell, singer and guitarist in Band of Horses, has never been reluctant to introduce a touch of country and bluegrass twang to the band’s dreamy indie rock. Yet, after relocating back to the Palmetto State a few years ago, Band of Horses’ shimmering guitar rock has grown considerably earthier. The falsetto “ooohs” that punctuate “Knock Knock,” the first song on fourth album Mirage Rock, provide only the faintest hint of the kind of warm, earnest rock within, the kind that, back in the ’70s, wasn’t preceded by “indie.” The gentle AM pop of “Dumpster World” is a dead ringer for America’s “Horse With No Name” at times, and the finger-picked acoustic melody of “Slow Cruel Hands of Time” makes a serene backdrop for Bridwell’s narration of his run-down surroundings: “No streetlamps/ there’s only three buildings and one of ‘em’s vacant.” That’s not to say that Band of Horses has forgotten how to let loose — “Feud” boasts some unusually intense riffs — but sure as their beards are bushy, Band of Horses have embraced a more mature, laid back kind of rock on Mirage Rock, and it’s a comfortable, cozy fit.

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