Band of Horses
Band of Horses (PR photo)
Why Are You OK
Band Of Horses
Interscope / American Recordings
Over the course of a decade, Band Of Horses have steadily become one of this country’s best rock bands. This forward momentum continues with their fifth studio album (their sixth overall), Why Are You OK.
Fronted by lead singer, principal songwriter and guitarist Ben Bridwell, Band Of Horses came together in 2004 in Seattle, later settling in South Carolina. The band’s lineup was a bit unstable during their first few years, but by the time they went into the studio to record 2010’s Infinite Arms, Bridwell found himself surrounded by the team that remains intact today. Joining Bridwell is drummer Creighton Barrett, keyboardist Ryan Monroe, guitarist/vocalist Tyler Ramsey, and bassist Bill Reynolds.
After working with legendary producer Glyn Johns on their last studio effort, 2012’s Mirage Rock, the band turned to Jason Lytle of Grandaddy to oversee this new album. In addition, Rick Rubin was also part of the creative team as the album’s executive producer.
Why Are You OK opens with the expansive “Dull Times / The Moon,” with a light psychedelic fuzz that drifts in easily like a silky fog at dawn, then thunders awake. The band’s signature sound – a chunky, guitar-driven wall of buzzed-out muscle – is in full bloom throughout the album, shining magnificently on powerhouse rockers like “Casual Party” and power pop songs like “In A Drawer,” featuring a cameo by J. Mascis.
The essential element in Why Are You OK, and everything Band of Horses does, is a strong sense of melody. The irresistibly catchy songs and their memorable hooks embed themselves in the psyche, while the pounding drums and thick blend of electronics, reverb and moderate distortion hold them in place. But the album doesn’t just gallop along at a relentless pace. “Lying Under Oak,” the pastoral “Whatever, Wherever,” the slow tempo of “Barrel House” and the end-of-the-day finale “Even Still” provide plenty of moments to exhale. Ramsey, who also has an established solo career, gets his moment in the sun on the glistening rural pop tune “Country Teen.”
Band of Horses don’t reinvent the wheel on Why Are You OK. Instead, they grease it and then fine-tune it, ensuring another memorable, melody-drenched excursion through the heartland of American rock.
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