Band Of Horses' fourth album Mirage Rock is a record that isn't quite sure what it wants to achieve, but it seems perfectly happy to do so without sounding directionless. Much of the production sheen that was a hallmark of predecessor Infinite Arms has been removed in favour of a looser more country feel. It seems a more intimate affair, but lacks some of the punch that made Band Of Horses quite so compelling. Ultimately it's the sound of a band having fun without wanting to repeat themselves. In a word it's a little underwhelming.
However opener and first single 'Knock Knock' doesn't really indicate Mirage Rock's more laid back tendencies. Instead it feels like an updated 60's pop song. The drums and backing vocals along with handclaps bring to mind a strange indie-rock mash-up that piques your interest. It's a great introduction to a record and although the lyrics are lightweight it's clear that Glyn Johns' production work helps it to barrel along at quite a pace. If Mirage Rock had decided to follow this template over its relatively brief 40 minutes, it may well seem less difficult to love the record.
Among Ben Bridwell's nostalgic southern excursions ('Slow Cruel Hands Of Time', 'Shut-in Tourist', for example) are brief flashes of more memorable material. 'A Little Biblical' features some great lyrics; "Welcome to another world, look at the water, look at whatever. We broke the last one apart, put it back together, it didn't matter." It's a carefree guitar led pop song that muses on growing up and moving on without feeling heavy handed.
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