22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Wild Horses Are More Exciting Than The Tamed...,
This review is from: Mirage Rock (Audio CD)
What makes Band of Horses (BoH) stand out from many other bands is their often experimental approach to their sound despite the record label's pressure to move them into the mainstream. This may be risky in terms of establishing stadium filling success and not all of it works. However, whilst other bands may stumble at this point, BoH have that uncanny knack of producing absolute gems from the simplistically yet intriguingly catchy `Is There a Ghost' to the more epic arrangements on `On My Way Back Home'. Over the years then, BoH, by deliberately straddling and resisting the mainstream have carved out a substantial and loyal following, continuing to pull original and memorable musical magic from the proverbial and potentially bland Americana trick bag.
Many professional critics reviewing Mirage Rock seem to be celebrating the production values Glyn Johns (who has worked with many of the greats such as the Beatles, The Who and Led Zeppelin) has brought to the album. Some even mention that Johns has helped rein in the group's experimental orientation, as if this was a bad thing that needed correcting. To me, if this is the case, as it would seem, then in doing so, this has killed the sound and dare I say the soul of the group and, whilst no doubt, BoH have much to learn from Johns, whom after all has a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they have for this album at least, finally crumbled under record label and producer pressure.
What has resulted is a musically accomplished, yet seemingly weak and lacklustre set of twelve songs, sitting well within the mainstream Americana bracket ready for consumption by the masses. Whilst melodically BoH is sort of still there, nothing remotely risky or quirky stands out and in terms of the albums as a whole; Mirage Rock all sounds the same, dangerously heading nowhere, literally a horse running without its rider. More worrying is that their sound has been firmed up into an almost folk/country rock Americana potentially treading the career killing waters of previous bands such as The Connells (who achieved major single success with the original and acoustic '74-'75 only to be discovered that the main thrust of their music was actually mainstream cannon fodder and promptly vanished into almost total obscurity afterwards.)
So, I have the utmost respect for Glyn johns, but, as a long, loyal fan of Band of Horses I would say; `can we have the old Band of Horses back please? They were much more interesting.'
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Initial post: 18 Sep 2012 14:06:57 BDT
Great review and you pretty much hit the nail on the head, BoH do seem to have given in to pressure from their label/lack of chart success (or possibly Glyn Johns' direction) and made a very, very middle of the road album. As you mentioned a lot of magazine reviews etc do seem to be banging on about this album as though it's the best thing the band has ever done when in reality it's just boring and nothing different from a hundred other bands in the same genre. I really enjoyed their other albums where, as you said, they experimented more and actually made interesting tracks. This seems to be a big step backwards but perhaps the band just needs to pay a few bills for the next couple of years and this is one way of getting more people buying their albums or attending gigs.
Hopefully the next album will be back on more familiar territory.
Posted on 18 Sep 2012 22:13:43 BDT
stuart noble says:
I understand where you are coming from, however I would disagree with the 2* rating. This is a solid album, while maybe not as strong as previous offerings. A 3.5* rating would be more apt, songs like Heartbreak... I felt showed a more mature sound that was certainly very intriguing.
Posted on 22 Sep 2012 03:39:48 BDT
O. Lowndes says:
Totally agree. This review is extremely good. I did one, but it's not as good as this one. Well done
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2012 21:17:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Sep 2012 21:17:57 BDT
tedious and bland music possibly masked (in part) by an attempt to slap consumer friendly production values on music that deserves so much better- fairly shocked at this descent into mediocrity
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