Band of Horses’ career started off incredibly strong with their debut Everything All The Time and the follow-up Cease To Begin, establishing their sparkling musical style. Eventually diminishing returns crept in and their sound got stale while their career seemed to stall. Now after five years the outfit is back with the sarcastically titled Things Are Great, and simply put, Band of Horses sound revitalized.
When the group (Ben Bridwell, Ryan Monroe, Creighton Barrett, Matt Gentling, and Ian MacDougall) get it right, their songs deliver a blissful majesty that is intoxicating. That sweet spot gets hit quite a few times throughout Things Are Great as the band re-establishes their luscious rock sound.
The twinkling stop/start of “Warning Signs” recalls the group’s earliest soaring efforts while the first single “Crutch” ups the ante with hip-shaking shimmering around keyboard swells in exciting fashion. The acoustic strumming and ringing electric runs highlight the depression/isolation based “In Need of Repair” as Bridwell sings gloriously about struggling and hurting.
The crunchy riffs of “Lights” and the full-on propulsive “Aftermath” (complete with panic attacks) are album highlights (if a bit derivative of past successes) while the band’s pleasing guitar lines are paired with a menacing groove on the Flaming Lips sounding “You Are Nice To Me”. Only the overlong/over-done “Tragedy of the Commons” and the floating “In the Hard Times” are restrained and a bit dull compared to the strong efforts all around them.
The drama and “oh-oh’s” rise during album closer “Coalinga” as the band goes all out, soaring to a crescendo finale as the album wraps up with Bridwell insulting the California town as a “foul ass smelling hellhole”. While lyrically Bridwell is struggling during these tough times, musically he has rebounded and that combo works; Things Are Great proves Band of Horses has a lot left in the tank.