Sunday, March 27, 2022

Band Of Horses are back to their best with latest album ‘Things Are Great’

Since forming in 2004, Band of Horses have had an array of members, and the one-time Grammy-nominated group hasn’t always had it easy. With that in mind, it came as a relative surprise when they announced the title of their new album – ‘Things are Great’. Released to a backdrop of escalating global conflict, soaring cost of living crises and the continued presence of COVID-19, the title comes – one would expect – with tongue firmly in cheek. 

Ben Bridwell, the founding and only ever-present member of the band, stated in an interview with Spin that the album was about relieving the pressure he’d put upon his own shoulders. It is with that newfound freedom that Bridwell and his band have managed to create an album that harks back to their earlier works. Filled with witty lyrics and rustic guitars, ‘Things Are Great’ is Band of Horses back at their best. 


Opener ‘Warning Signs’ is a perfect example of this, as Bridwell details the emotional and mental breakdown of a friend over jangly guitar lines. “Not to cry in front of people in work / That’s hard at times you know” bemoans Bridwell with his instantly recognisable voice on a track that will resonate to the millions who suffer in silence. 


Lead single ‘Crutch’ again deals with the ever-present demon of mental health. The band, however, take the track down a more mellow route as acoustic guitars and rolling licks accompany Bridwell on his journey through the battles within his mind. 


The halfway mark of the album also encapsulates the beauty in the emotive lyrics found on ‘Things Are Great’. ‘In Need of Repair’ finds Bridwell nostalgic for a life that never really was and relationships that never really were. “Can’t do all the things we used to do, and it sucks” he croons, in a lyric that will bite hard to those who wish they could simply turn back the clocks to simpler and less cluttered times. That the song still manages to feel somewhat optimistic simply proves that Band of Horses know how to curate a melancholic masterpiece. 


The album's closer ‘Coalinga’ is, on the surface, the tale of a small town in California. Yet, Bridwell has never been one for the simplistic. The driving guitars and pounding drums in a cacophony of orchestral backing vocals allow the track to take on multiple meanings. It’s a feel-good end to an album that can drag you into the fearsome depths of your own psyche at times. “Things are great, yeah things are great / In a cowshit smelling hellhole called Coalinga” claims Bridwell. The oxymoron is not lost, as it’s the driving theme of the record. ‘Things Are Great’ … even when they aren’t. 


In almost two decades together, Band of Horses have made a name for themselves with witty, emotive lyrics laid over beautifully rustic, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. On their latest album, we find more of the same, but at times, more of the same is just what the doctor ordered. 


James Ogden 

 Image: ‘Things Are Great’ Official Album Cover 



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