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Band of Horses - Why Are You OK (Album Review)

Monday, 20 June 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Andrew Stuart

It’s now a decade since Band of Horses’ debut, ‘Everything All The Time’, arrived to much acclaim. With every release since then, though, Ben Bridwell and his band have seemed to slip further and further away from the folky roots that initially drew their fans in.

The band’s fifth LP, ‘Why Are You OK’, arrives complete with noticeable production from Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle and a few nods to the past that will please the old guard. If you’re missing Lytle’s own band, too, then you may be in for an unexpected treat.

With Bridwell now the loving father of four children, songwriting for the record was confined to the night. The subject matter tackles the regular, mundane aspects of day-to-day life, with meaningless chit chat and boredom intertwined with memories conjured up by old photographs.

The lead single, Casual Party, is a vibrant rocker that sheds some light on these goings on, although melodic similarities with Echo & The Bunnymen’s Bring On The Dancing Horses are hard to ignore.

Bridwell’s vocal fragility is one of the band’s greatest assets and on seven minute opener Dull Times/The Moon, he is in enthralling form. The track is another to reflect the menial necessities of suburban life but, after an injection of electric guitar, it thunders over the line in epic fashion.

Hag is a minimalist, dreamy cut that displays that wonderful vocal vulnerability once again, while Throw My Mess is a country-folk number that will delight older fans. Dinosaur Jr.’s J.Mascis provides vocals on the bouncy In A Drawer, with the contrast between his tones and Bridwell’s being of particular interest.

Sweetly blended vocal harmonies adorn the serene Whatever, Wherever for a sugary Beach Boys moment, as they do on the flower-power core of Lying Under Oak. An air of easy listening sees out the album too, with the delicate Barrel House boasting an exceptional, nerve-tingling chorus and Even Still utilising cello to explore an extra emotional dimension. ‘Why Are You OK’ should please fans hoping for a more straightforward, folk-based Band of Horses and it’s a return to form, even if it doesn’t quite reach the  highs of their earliest recordings.

Band of Horses Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue July 05 2016 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Wed July 06 2016 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Thu July 07 2016 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall

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