Call it the Kings of Leon effect: A little Southern band with much-adored debut album has trouble regaining the critical affection toward its second and third albums, then signs to a major label and creatively stagnates while selling more albums than it had ever dreamed of back in South Carolina or wherever.
Critics who have accused Ben Bridwell and company of aimlessness, self-indulgence and being, well, boring on past efforts just might have something concrete to complain about on Band of Horses’ third LP, Infinite Arms.
Where 2006’s underrated Cease to Begin kicked off with the layered, chilly vocals and anthemic crescendo of “Is There A Ghost?,” Arms gets off to a slow start with “Factory,” a ballad that is perfectly pleasant and perfectly forgettable, a problem which characterizes most of the album.
The band’s propensity to “just like, jam out, man” is probably one of its biggest weaknesses, as highlighted by the noodling, inexplicable lead single “Compliments.”
I enjoyed “Laredo” more than it might merit, due to the Big Star-aping vocals (in this writer’s opinion, that’s never a bad thing) and more melodic, crisp guitar parts.
The album is not without merit, but it is wholly without risks.