Might not be the best sign that after listening to Cease To Begin a handful of times we were pretty convinced we were missing a couple tracks. Turns out Band Of Horses’ follow-up to Everything All The Time just lacks anything as rousing or epic as “Funeral” or “The Great Salt Lake.”
Actually, it lacks a lot more than that.
Cease is very pretty, but very slight. The album includes ten tracks, same as Everything, yet it feels much thinner. “There Is A Ghost” which has been circulating for a while, is far and away the best track, and it’s followed by another goodie “Ode To LRC.” Please don’t get too comfy with those guitar bursts, though, because after that it’s a more downcast affair. Downcast is fine. Mellowness is cool. Someone like Will Oldham can get away with intense minimalism because his lyrics (and, well, his amazing, craggy voice) can carry the tune. Ben Bridwell, on the other hand, lacks that sort of lyrical burst — it’s his reedy Doug Martsch twang that sells BoH’s best tracks. Fun to hear it shouting and soaring, even when he slows it down some, as on the sweetly emo (and catchy) “No One’s Gonna Love You.”
But then Cease loses itself, plodding from the faux country crooning of “Detlef Schrempf” to lullabying “The General Specific” (dig the “eyes can’t look at you any other way” chorusing, but the rest is a snore), Bridwell resorting to sighing his now-signature sighs against a downcast backdrop: not so moving. How’s about some Codeine heaviness? Red House Painters eloquence? The hushed melodies of ex-touring mates Iron & Wine? You certainly can be quiet and interesting (a thousand shy kids just nodded), but this isn’t. The hand claps and piano tap in “Lamb of the Lam (In The City)” help a tad by at least introducing a new texture, but not really.
There are other rockers (see “Marry Song” or thematically linked “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands”), but they also aren’t so detailed or interesting. So perhaps it’s not a question of speed? Devendra needs an editor; these dudes need more content.
Still, we do love the cover art.
Cease To Begin is out 10/9 on Sub Pop.