Like their 2006 debut Everything All The Time, Band of Horses’ third release, Infinite Arms, opens with what is possibly its best song. “Factory” brings together all of the band’s strengths: expressive guitar layering, a symphonic melody, and lyrics whose references to hotel floors and great movies recall the illusory romance of wayside American towns. The track’s looping wail will almost immediately stick in your head, and it’s certainly no cause for complaint.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not quite fulfill the promise of “Factory,” as the last few notes leave a less satisfying aftertaste than the first. Still, despite peaking early, Infinite Arms can declare itself a quiet success, even if it won’t revolutionize the alternative country scene.
In terms of sound, Band of Horses is known for stability rather than versatility. No major conceptual differences distinguish their first two albums, and the same can be said for Infinite Arms. In fact, songs such as “Laredo” and “NW Apt.” sound as if they could have been B-sides on either of the past two releases. But the band avoids becoming stale by honing in on what they do well to produce downright pretty music. In the title track, for example, background whistling lends poignancy rather than cheesiness, and the lyrics’ easy accessibility makes up for moments of sloppy word choice. It’s another example of the band’s tendency to capture what they’re about in a single song: a group focused on music’s simple pleasures instead of its loftier goals. They’re going to have to throw braver sounds into their fourth album to make a real impact, but for now, the old formula has yet to truly disappoint.