Band of Horses: Why Are You OK (Interscope) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Band of Horses

Why Are You OK

Interscope

Jun 24, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


For a while after 2012's Mirage Rock, Band of Horses' awkward, uncomfortable attempt at the mainstream, it seemed possible that the album would be the band's last artistic statement. Which given the excellence of their first two records (heck, I even like 80% of Infinite Arms) would have been a true shame for a band who seemed to be placing the need for commercial success ahead of quality. The future looked uncertain and long-term fans were fearful.

Why Are You OK is a significant improvement on that record, and a genuine allaying of such fears. Granted, it is still not at the levels that propelled 2006's debut, Everything All the Time, and 2007's sophomore effort, Cease to Begin, to the public consciousness, but it does sound like a band re-establishing what made itself vital in the first place. Many reviews have focused on Ben Bridwell's collaboration with Grandaddy's Jason Lytle as the central key factor around the album's renewed energy and color but such emphasis is unfair on the band-as much as Lytle's production sounds fresh and invigorating, the success of the record centers around Bridwell re-establishing the emotional connections from the songs. Opener "Dull Times/The Moon" is an immediate validation of thisambitious, slow-build and explosive without seeming over-burdened or wasteful. "Whatever, Wherever" is effortlessly pretty and "Throw My Mess" carries a Bright Eyes-style folk-rock charm. Even better is when J Mascis turns up on the vibrant, joyous "In a Drawer" but it is the minimal, perfectly-weighted emotional punch of "Barrel House" that impresses most hereBridwell at his most confessing and emotionally articulate.

It doesn't always worklead single "Casual Party" and "Country Teen" veer dangerously close to MOR rock-by-numbers but conversely, the inclusion of the psychedelic soundscape that is "Hag" shows that Band of Horses are not averse to exploring new territory while consolidating their older, more familiar ground. And while Why Are You OK may struggle to match the specific peaks of some of their previous work, its consistency, cohesion, and variety of songcraft breathes new spark into the band's flame and hints at a brighter, more expansive musical future. (www.bandofhorses.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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