Band of Horses – Infinite Arms
Record Label: Brown Records / Fat Possum / Columbia
Release Date: May 18, 2010
After releasing their incredibly successful sophomore record, Cease to Begin in 2007, which reached number 35 on the Billboard 200, Seattle’s Band of Horses went through many changes, including a multitude of member changes and signing to Columbia Records. Now three years later, Band of Horses have an almost completely new lineup since Cease, with the only constant member being vocalist and songwriter Ben Bridwell. Again returning to producer Phil Ek, Band of Horses have crafted another stunning yet simple record: Infinite Arms.
The key to this record is simplicity, as the entirety of the record is stripped down and basic while containing some the best tracks written by Band of Horses. From country-echoing tracks (“Blue Beard” and “Evening Kitchen”) to upbeat sing-alongs reminiscent of Minus the Bear (“Compliments” and “NW Apt.”), Band of Horses have broken all of their barriers with Infinite Arms. True to its title, Band of Horses’ third record proves their boundaries to be nonexistent – infinite and never-ending.
As Ben Bridwell’s beautifully captivating vocals ring out in opener “Factory,” the whirl of beauty that is Infinite Arms begins as Bridwell sings of lonesomeness. This eerie disposition doesn’t last long though, as “Compliments” and then “Lorado” pulsate through the speakers, forcing the listener to tap along to the infectious beat behind some of Bridwell’s best vocals. “Blue Beard” features some of the most intricate lyrics on the record as Bridwell describes the night, an overall theme of the record (“I used to see the night so anxious, but now I know /the only thing it ever taught me was a grand illusion/That comes and goes, the city blanketed of snow.”) Bridwell’s poetic lyrics throughout Infinite Arms are stunning, as he weaves poetry and memorable figurative language into lyrics.
Title track “Infinite Arms” begins with soft acoustic guitar as Bridwell’s perfect vocals shine; the track is easily one of the best on the record. The soft guitar allows Bridwell’s acute vocals to be the focal point on the track, and similar to on every track on the record, his voice is pristine. The latter “Neighbor” is alike to many of the softer tracks on Infinite Arms, featuring some of the best lyrics on the album as Bridwell describes hope (“We could live by our own laws and favors”) and recounts “Once upon a time in a border town/The war was over, the guns laid down/The women, the men, the children saved/Now it's hard to remember it any other way.” This track is the end of the war, a song of compassion. A perfect end to Infinite Arms, “Neighbor” conveys Bridwell’s luminous vocals and sophisticated lyricism.
While Infinite takes many listens to truly delve into Bridwell’s mind and magic through his breathtaking lyrics, each listen is more enhanced than the last, as the listener discovers further with each second. Likewise, there are absolutely no filler tracks on this 12 track masterpiece, a true work of art; although there is one minor flaw on the record and that is within “Older,” which gets overly repetitive as Bridwell continues to repeat the same lyrics. Luckily, Bridwell’s captivating voice keeps the listener intrigued, making the tedium almost barely discernible. The beauty of Infinite Arms is indeed the way every track is simply picturesque and truly superlative. There’s no question that both Ben Bridwell’s vocals and lyrics are better than ever, almost hypnotizing throughout Arms. The country-ting behind tracks is distinct yet enjoyable, while upbeat tracks change the pace. This record is Band of Horses best work to date; the magnificence of Infinite Arms is indeed just that - infinite.