Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin
Band of Horses are one of those bands that have quickly emerged out into the indie world, thriving off their comparisons to The Shins, which have taken them into the realms of mainstream internet ubiquity. And deservedly so. On Cease to Begin, the band's second release, Ben Bridwell's reverberating vocals resound over chiming guitars, often acting as ambient or atmospheric sounds to create vivid imagery within their music. The twinkling guitars depict a twilight sky, while the warmth and intimacy of Bridwell's vocals evoke closeness and bareness, etching images of camp-fire landscapes, or other unattainable nostalgic memories, on songs like "No One's Gonna Love You" and "Detlef Schrempf."
Opener "Is There a Ghost?" begins with Band of Horses' patented chiming guitars, where Bridwell concisely sings, "I could sleep when I lived alone. Is there a ghost in my house?" Without tiresome repetition, Bridwell continually repeats these lines, evoking sentiments of the repetitious nights of one who suffers from incessant insomnia. While the first half begins quietly and almost innocuously, a gradual guitar strumming breaks the song into a booming crescendo, where the same words are spoken with newfound passion over an ebullient harmony-concluding with a spiraling guitar solo, then rest.
"Ode to LRC" continues the momentum from "Ghost" with a buoyant guitar riff that allows Bridwell to annunciate his vocals with greater emphasis over, of course, walls of reverberation and swirling atmospheric guitar. The album follows this successful pattern with different harmonies, pacing through its melancholic single, "No One's Gonna Love You," which has a more mature, deeply pensive sound than its name might suggest, and the nostalgic dirge "Detlef Schrempf," which has a powerfully soothing, slow-dancing, shoe-gazing melody. Its repetitive line, "eyes can't look at you any other way," earn it the role of the saddest song on the album, as it expresses loss-of an idol, a friend, anyone, really-with genuine sentiments of sorrow pouring from the speakers.
The first half of Cease to Begin is impeccably strong; even Band of Horses' foray into the country-inspired harmonies on "The General Specific" is a success, where Bridwell's vocals are straightforwardly delivered, sounding as truthfully impassioned as ever, "What the writers say, it means shit to me now." After "Lamb on the Lam (In the City)," a short musical interlude breaking the album in two, the album is unable to maintain the tempo its predecessor laid out. However, the album is ultimately viewed as a tremendous success, as the triumphs of the first six songs overshadow the occasional stumbles of the notorious "sophomore-slump." Cease to Begin proves that Band of Horses belong in your repertoire of indie-jams and, simply, in the soundtracks of your life.
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on 2009-07-31 Archelon Said:
Surprised that 'Window Blues' didn't get a mention above, it's amazingly beautiful track! :) Nice reviewing, keep it up.