Every so often a CD comes along that makes me long for solitude not
only where no one else is making noise, but also where no one else is
listening. When I was younger and had plenty of free hours and a
normally quiet apartment, I often experienced music alone, and it would
start to feel like it was only mine. Now I live in a noisy city with a
noisy family, and I rarely have music of my own anymore. Rarely.
sometimes manage to push the other ears and mouths aside for a while to
make space for the music. Band of Horses' new disc, Everything All the
Time, makes me need to do that. I find myself arranging times when my
house will be empty so I can listen to the band's soothing mix of reverb
Singer Benjamin Bridwell's faraway voice and the hippie twang in some of
the songs have earned Band of Horses comparisons to My Morning Jacket.
The likeness is mainly in the vocals and the rollicking track "Weed
Party." My Morning Jacket are much more upfront, and pretty easy to
share. Band of Horses keep a lot shrouded in effects and indistinct lyrics.
The disc opens with shimmery, strumming guitars, melting in on
Bridwell's voice, which sings something having to do with Christmastime
and presents. Turn it up as loud as you want; it can't sound abrasive.
"The First Song" could be a Cocteau
Twins cover: it's got the gauzy guitar lines, the lyrics that surface
only every few phrases, and the sense that this is a secret between you
and the band.
The Horses shed their soft side a bit by the second track. The
atmospheric effects get a little more grounded when the drum and bass
become more audible. By the third track, the high, plaintive guitar
gives way to a bass-heavy swagger, and Bridwell's voice gets a little
closer to the mic.
One of the disc's most engaging tracks is "The Funeral." The guitar
heads back up to the ether as Bridwell sings, "I'm coming up only to
hold you under/ And coming up only to show you wrong." Arcade Fire's
CD last year, written after the deaths of some bandmembers' grandparents, sucked listeners in with its raw
emotion. The same emotional intensity
pulses out of this track, even though it's unclear whether the song is about
the death of a relationship or the loss of a loved one. When Bridwell
sings, "On every occasion, I'll be ready for the funeral," the guitars
charge down from the heavens full of pain and rage; it feels epic and
cathartic. The disc's single, "Great Salt Lake," delivers similar rounds
of sadness and salvation.
Toward the end of the disc the Horses shake off some effects and let the
guitar strings and voices have some more spotlight. On "Part One"
Bridwell channels Neil Young in a sweet and romantic tale of lovers on
the road. When they wake in the morning, he generously offers, "Good
morning to you/ And more covers for you." Of course, he leaves right
after but first says he loves her. Mat Brooke, who works his magic on
guitars and other stringed instruments throughout the disc, steps up to
the mic on "I Go to the Barn Because I Like the." His deep voice
contrasts with Bridwell's in a sultry paean to love, as both men sing, "I like
to think I'm a mess you'd wear with pride/ Like some empty dress on the
bed you've laid out for tonight."
There's something comforting (even a little Muppetlike) about the
banjo-led "Monsters." When Bridwell sings "If I am lost, it's only for a
little while," it's a reminder that I ought to get back myself, to the
other ears and mouths in my life.But now I want to share with them this song
about overcoming monsters or the awful people that surround us. Monsters
have a habit of showing up at recess.