Band of Horses Broadens Their Reputation for Humble Folk Rock
Band of Horses is an American indie rock band formed in 2004 in Seattle, Washington by Ben Bridwell. The band has released five studio albums, the most successful being Infinite Arms. At the 2010 Grammy Awards, it was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Alternative Album category. Band of Horses’ fifth studio album, Why Are You Ok, was released on June 10th through Interscope Records.
Band of Horses is distinctive in the indie scene for their embrace of dreamily atmospheric sounds over somber echoes. Many indie bands seem intent on creating melancholy records that showcase the depth of human darkness. However, Band of Horses isn’t your typical indie band. Although their music remains steadily guitar-driven, the riffs are simple and unassuming. They’ve never aimed to extract philosophical reflection from their music. They’re all about finding modest happiness in life.
Band of Horses’ music achieves a careful balance between tranquility and emotional rawness. The albums Everything All the Time (2006) and Cease to Begin (2007) has listeners wearing their hearts on their sleeves with every song. Although Infinite Arms (2010) and Mirage Rock (2012) deviate from that formula with their approach to more radio-friendly pop, Why Are You Ok returns to their signature sound.
Most of the tunes on Why Are You Ok sound written in the same vein. Down-to-earth guitar riffs are scattered throughout the record. Vocalist Ben Bridwell’s soothing voice drifts in each song with bare emotion. Most of the tunes are leisurely and serene, with several exceptions. “The Moon” takes on a heavier rock-oriented sound after the Pink Floyd-esque “Dull Times” ambles along in a psychedelic spiral. “Casual Party” speeds up the beat with exasperated lyrics about not enjoying a party and wanting to go home. “Throw My Mess” centers on a memorably melodic riff and ambient drumbeats.
However, the most important component of Why You Are Ok is the lyrics. They spin warm homeland tales about everyday emotional difficulties that hit close to home for many listeners.
For example, on “Barrel House”:
The life of a man
His head above the water and pushed under again
I’ve seen it one too many times
It’s a test of the spirit versus
The health of the mind
From these lyrics, it’s clear that Band of Horses is a band you listen to for the messages they send. In fact, that’s what folk music is all about: musically simple yet lyrically complex tunes. Why Are You Ok successfully achieves this goal. It’s another notch in the win column for the humble Band of Horses.
Check out “Barrel House” on YouTube below. If you like what you hear, you can find the rest of Why Are You Ok streaming on Spotify.