Spending much of 2005 touring with Iron & Wine and Okkervil River and releasing a self-titled EP available only at their shows and online, Band Of Horses’ recent activity suggests that their full-length debut, Everything All The Time, might be a variation of Sam Beam’s trendy brand of DIY, progressive folk. Looking farther back into the band’s history, however, reveals that Band Of Horses was formed by frontman Ben Bridwell and guitarist Mat Brooke after their lengthy tenure in Carissa’s Weird, indie darlings from the Pacific Northwest who specialized in sprawling, melancholy pop. Everything follows in that vein, making Band Of Horses a fitting addition to the Sup Pop roster.
That Bridwell’s vocals, both in tone and phrasing, recall The Shins’ James Mercer might cause the careless listener to dismiss Band Of Horses as simply another indie-pop act waiting for the Garden State/O.C. bubble to burst, but there’s an engaging tension to the songs on Everything that makes the band worthy of some attention. The interplay between Bridwell’s yearning, contemplative delivery and Brooke’s nimbly plucked banjo on the ambling “Monsters,” for instance, creates the kind of point-counterpoint structure that certainly deserves the same kind of attention from the listener that the musicians gave to building their sound.
With individual tracks that ebb and flow between emotional extremes, Everything is an album that has a definite sense of momentum for much of its running time, which it unfortunately loses in its home stretch, following the ambitious, ragged “The Great Salt Lake.” For an album on which structure plays such a pivotal role, that the energy leaches from the album over its final three tracks without an overall macro-level purpose reveals itself to be an oversight. As meticulous as Band Of Horses’ sound is, though, that’s the kind of misstep that they aren’t likely to repeat.