The illusion that is Mirage Rock
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Album: Mirage Rock
Artist: Band of Horses
Release: Sept. 18
The newest release from indie-rock super power Band of Horses has had loyal fans saddled up and waiting in line at the stables for a ride down memory lane.
Much to their dismay, the excitement of a new album proves to be a mirage. The latest collection of songs gallops in a direction that had fans worried after their 2010 album Infinite Arms. While the latter maintained some of the awesome guitar tones and blood-pumping emotion that filled the band’s first two stellar albums, Mirage Rock feels weak and boring.
Infinite Arms seemed to move the band in a more sentimental direction. Songs like “For Annabelle” and “On My Way Back Home” lacked the power and driving riffs that marked earlier work, but they had something else. The dreamy guitars and the far more personal lyrics showed a softer side of Band of Horses that felt new but cozy at the same time.
Mirage Rockproves to be a loss of all force the band once had. The sound resembles that of classic Southern rock, but it doesn’t pack the punch those legendary names like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young carried to form the genre. Weak guitar sounds and whiny lyrics lacking real emotion make up most of the tracks on the new album.
There are twangy guitars and some nice harmonies on this album, especially in “Dumpster World,” but a closer listen to the lyrics will leave fans wanting something deeper from the album.
Band of Horses’ powerful side worked wonders on their first two albums, but their latest work proves that sentiment is something they have yet to master.
Lyrics on “How to Live” try to carry emotional force, but they don’t do so successfully.
“Guess what? I lost my job, it’s just my luck,” Ben Bridwell sings. “Guess what? You’re gettin’ old. Still gotta grow up.”
Rather than teaching fans how to live, Band of Horses seem to be teaching them how to delve into classic rock genres with weak material.
What remains in this latest collection are lead singer Ben Bridwell’s unmistakable vocals. Even with weak lyrics, Bridwell’s voice reaches some beautiful places on the album, especially in “Slow Cruel Hands of Time.”
Band of Horses’ albums always sounded like the soundtrack to a perfect road trip. Songs like “The Great Salt Lake” from Everything All the Time and “Laredo” off of Infinite Arms are prime examples.
In this respect, Mirage Rock never puts the pedal to the floor and fails to carry us anywhere.
Truth be told, be prepared to ride off into the sunset on your band of ponies, not horses, with this sad release from an old favorite.