Title: Mirage Rock
Record Label: Columbia/Sub Pop
With an LP title that includes the word ‘rock’ and an album cover that boasts a craggy, jagged boulder, you’d be lead to believe that Band of Horses had set their guitars to rough ‘n’ ready, rock ‘n’ roll good times with their fourth effort. On the whole the five piece headed up by Ben Bridwell have delivered a solid dusty rock album that channels elements of Americana which can be heard from the main horseman’s smooth vocals, plus the odd flicker of bluegrass that crops up on ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Undone’ and a touch of bluesy guitar on ‘Dumpster World’ keeps the Uncle Sam vibes going.
There are moments where it feels the five horsemen are holding back on unleashing their inner rock god, the aforementioned ‘Dumpster World’ begins sombrely then bursts into life with a riff that steps the track up a notch, but you get the impression BOH should get heavier, disappointingly this doesn’t materialise. One track that does illustrate BOH at their rocking best is ‘Feud’ which is all driving riffs and thrashed drums. A few more ‘Feud’s on Mirage Rock would have been a welcomed addition and would have added a different dimension to a record that is crying out for a bit of aggression.
This isn’t to say Mirage Rock isn’t worth your time, aside from not fulfilling their rawk tendencies the album is awash with good ol’ fashioned story tellin’ that documents Bridwell and his hoofed chums reminiscing of returning home after being away for prolonged periods on ‘Slow Cruel Hands of Time’. Equally the themes of heartache crop up, especially on the tender ‘Heartbreak 101’. The swooning tale of disenchantment is a myriad of dark toned strings that provides an atmospheric and poignant finale to Mirage Rock. What BOH do well is create a moment that would sound fitting round a campfire or a cross country road trip with nothing on the horizon but cacti.
Mirage Rock isn’t quite the balls out rock record you might expect but all the same it’s an album of depth and texture albeit smoother than its rough cover image would have you believe.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams