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Dan Baker

CD of The Week

Week of 3/28/22

    Band of Horses - Things Are Great (BMG)

    When we last heard from Band of Horses six years ago, Ben Bridwell was asking Why Are You OK. On their sixth album, he answers this question by claiming that Things Are Great. But obviously, that’s far from the case on a record overflowing with post-breakup emotions and overall sadness.

    In fact, the very first lyric on loud-quiet-loud album opener “Warning Signs” is “Small talk with a registered nurse/Not to cry in front of people at work/Well that's hard, hard, hard, at times you know” setting the scene for 10 songs from the POV of an individual at a definitively sad place in life. Especially since the song ends with the declaration “I don't want help/I don't want counseling/I won't go to therapy.”

    Much of Things Are Great relaxes into the same gentler mood, with heartbreak lurking within its chiming guitar lines. “In the Hard Times” takes its title from the accusation that “You deserted me in the hard times” and the twangy “In Need of Repair” describes a state of claustrophobic depression. The play on words in lead single “Crutch” notes that it’s not a crush on you, so this is a song of dependency, not attraction. And, yes, Bridwell actually used a Mr. Freeze-caliber pun for the title of the jangling "Ice Night We're Having."

    Things Are Great ends on a bummer trip to “Coalinga,” a town in California that he describes as “a cow s**t smelling hellhole,” at odds with the track’s gorgeous music and swelling vocals.

    Band of Horses have always existed somewhere at the intersection of My Morning Jacket and The Shins and Things Are Great remains in this sonic realm. No matter how dark the lyrics get, musically, it all sounds lovely and helps the misery go down easier. Things Are Great travels a dark, lonely path with seemingly no way out, but let’s hope on the next record, Bridwell has found a reason for a less ironic album title.

    Band of Horses is slated to open for The Black Keys at the Waterfront Music Pavilion on July 30th.
    Review by Joey O.

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