Band Of Horses

Why Are You OK

Written by: TL on 09/07/2016 10:49:36

South Carolina's Band Of Horses, who guested Denmark's Tinderbox Festival just recently, and are set to return and play in Koncerthuset, Copenhagen in March next year, is a band that most people will inevitably remember for the big singles "The Funeral" and "Is There A Ghost?", from their two first albums from 2006 and 2007. And one wonders if the people who are expected to buy those tickets for Koncerthuset are also expected to know much material from the three albums that now separate the quintet from those breakthrough albums. New albums that offered more low key and laid back indie/country tunes. That is if memory serves because things arguably haven't really been as memorable from Band Of Horses for a while.

The newest album "Why Are You OK" has the potential to irk you right out the gates, leaving its question without a question mark in the title, yet perhaps this is only one obstinate choice on an album that doesn't seem intended for everyone. At least not judging from how it starts with a seven minute two-tracks-in-one, the first half of which is quite fittingly titled "Dull Times". The tempo is aaaaachingly slow, and you get the sense that the point has been to draw things out and build the atmosphere very meticulously.. And to drive off casual or impatient listeners maybe. Yet the best thing you can say about the song is that it at least succeeds at making you lose sense of time. What the reasoning is for enclosing it on the same track as the second half "The Moon", is hard to say, because it doesn't feel like the music of the two have all that much to do with each other.

There are a couple of almost catchy, somewhat more upbeat tunes on the album, speaking here mainly of "Solemn Oath" at track two and "In A Drawer" at track five. Bands like Wintersleep, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Folly & The Hunter come to mind, while others like The Migrant, My Morning Jacket and Chorus Grant are more apt comparisons during the slower sections. In general, it's the latter impression that dominates "Why Are You OK" as a whole: That it's slow, kept dragging in pace, at times almost as drawn out and intended-as-hypnotic as a Beach House song.

Now, an absence of tempo and energy is not necessarily a bad thing - it can leave room for more appreciation of tone, texture and arrangements - But there needs to remain some sense of tension, and there's not a lot of that on "Why Are You OK". It's the kind of record that makes you kind of wonder, if you would 'get it" more if you really paid attention to the lyrics throughout, yet the songs are to even well-meaning listening attempts like what umbrellas are to light rain. At best you get a hint of some potential, like in the slightly darkly toned "Barrel House", but even here the composition ultimately remains calm and unimposing, putting a responsibility on frontman Ben Bridwell to draw your interest, that he never really lifts.

Long story short, "Why Are You OK" is a record that probably appeals mainly to listeners who live life with a much slower pulse than what we imagine most of our readers do. Its primary 'feel' is the opposite of urgency, and rather than appearing thoughtful or characteristically atmospheric to make up for it, it just appears self-indulgent and complacent with the way its drawn out: As if the band wanted to try that on and see how it fit, uncaring as to whether the results would be very interesting to anyone.

Download: Solemn Oath, In A Drawer
For The Fans Of: Wintersleep, My Morning Jacket, The Migrant, Chorus Grant

Release date 10.06.2016

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