Recommended Tracks: “Warning Signs” and “In Need of Repair”
Artists You May Like: Broken Bells, Local Natives, Fleet Foxes
I first came across Band of Horses in middle school, dreary from the angst of life. Ironically, their song “The Funeral” made me want to live a bit longer, if only just to hear more sad music. With their newest release Things Are Great, the group had no troubles recalling the same sentiment.
“Warning Signs” opens the album with heavy hitting lines immediately, “not to cry in front of people at work//well that’s hard, hard, hard.” It’s atmospheric chords echo with resolute resignation. This angst is continued in “Tragedy of the Commons” with, “speak so soft and sob so loud.” The latter’s pacing has varied beats that ooze into briefly slowed tempos. Sonically, it pines for respite in the sprint of trying to keep up, which mirrors the lyrical content of struggling with the current chaotic world.
There is at least one uplifting song from the record, of course. “Crutch” is a play on words with “crush.” It details the tip-toeing of liking someone and romanticizes otherwise mundane experiences. While the lyrics seem frustrated and maybe even upset, juxtaposed with the upbeat, tinging melody it draws imagery of a past summer crush. “Ice Night We’re Having” leans into that same quick pacing, but takes it in a different direction. This song is a train-chugging journey of recounting glory days, and it’s also messy nonsense in a good way. They sing that “Drunk people from the Southeast//they talk slow” and I have to say as a native Tennessean, it’s true.
The record slows again with “In Hard Times,” and eases through the awkward navigation of interacting with someone who betrayed your trust. Descent further into melancholy continues on “In Need of Repair,” with a chorus that’s simplistic, honest, and vulnerably raw. Starting softly, “Aftermath” hones in on an echoic vocal that rings sorrowfully with that same rawness. The lyrics are intentional without revealing too many details. Maybe it’s a separation of relationship or a separation of self – maybe it’s both. Distortion is used to amplify the internal turmoil that’s felt.
“Lights” is a flashback memory. It could’ve been a heist gone wrong, or just a bust at a party. It sounds like a raucous night and was probably scary in the moment. In recounting though, the anxiety becomes fuzzy and tastes more like adrenaline than anything. “You Are Nice To Me” is another nostalgic song, but is centered on the hazy superficiality of everyday interactions. How many times have you been asked, “How are you?” and answered honestly? Rounding out the album, “Coalinga” drapes comforting layers of vocals and instrumentals over less-than-comforting lines.
Things Are Great is not only a sarcastic quip, it’s pleading self-reassurance in a quiet, desperate moment. It may very well be the worst pep talk of your life, but if it works to keep going, then was it really worthless? If you get down and want to hear that you’re not alone in that, just remember, Band of Horses said “You’re welcome back anytime.”
Ways to listen: Things Are Great