Band Of Horses are taking hold of the reins. A small six years since their last release, the world having turned upside down and been shaken about since, their return assures us that ‘Things Are Great’. Or, at least with this album, they have potential to be. A tranquil chronicling of hardship and a long effort to understand and learn narrated by the distinctive vocals of frontman Ben Bridwell, ‘Things Are Great’ is a considered and meditative musical homecoming.
In a lot of ways, those qualities seem to stem from how autonomous this album feels. It’s not trying to impress anyone too much, other than perhaps the band themselves. There are no attempts to dilute the raw emotions in each track: instead, they are laced into every beat, every lazy slide of the guitar, every mounting percussive section. Earnest, unapologetic truth serves as their most important player. From the indignant, stubborn thread weaving through ‘Warning Signs’ to the sense of being stuck and frustrated on ‘In Need Of Repair’, there are times when ‘Things Are Great’ is a heavy listen. Yet, it’s a necessary one.
There’s a crucial line of hope which rears its head continuously through the album: the irresistibly upbeat guitar line of ‘Lights’ or the choral element to ‘You Are Nice To Me’ shines a fundamental brightness upon the album. It’s a journey, and at the other end of it is a major lightness and levity. There’s a lot to be discovered through coping in the dark times, and the clarity that emerges is profound on the album.
‘Coalinga’ draws ‘Things Are Great’ to a euphoric end. It’s rousing, washing over you in those shades of muted blues that adorn the album’s cover. It’s an ending that feels distinctly like a breath of cool fresh air after a long period of stifling, panic-inducing humidity. As they create their most on-their-terms album to date, Band of Horses manage to lift a weight from your shoulders you perhaps didn’t know was there.
Words: Neive McCarthy
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