Band of Horses - Mirage Rock
- By Ian Easton -
- Sep 19, 2012
Straight to it then, *rubs hands together*. 'Mirage Rock' is a broiling tincture of Landscape/Country/Alt/Rock. Alas, a selection of the songs on display do seem a little easy, a little ‘middle of the road’ on first listen, but if you dip your ladle in deep enough, you will be sure to pull out the odd delicious globule dripping with raw songwriting talent. Tracks ‘Slow Cruel Hands’ and ‘Dumpster World’ scream Neil Young, and refreshingly so.
The entire Band of Horses makeup spans a range of affirmative trans-Atlantic themes throughout Mirage Rock. From touches of the signature quiet/loud - light/dark dynamics Seattle bands have been so well known for championing over the last 25 years, to a sparse and expansive Bruce Springsteen feel with even some Blues/Folk/Americana overtones. This is a neatly placed mishmash of genres – in places. ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Undone’ and ‘Heartbreak 101’ are personal favourites, so make sure you listen out for those little ditties.
But hold on! There are even touches of Sonic Youth and Mudhoney in here – where the hell did they rear their heads from? It must be the vocals – there is something about the delivery, the way the melodies are placed at certain points in the album. The way they move juxtaposes the wide, fist-clenching structure of the songs and plant you in a narrower, more refined and angst-orientated state of mind. Portions of this are surprisingly slap-you-in-the-face cutting edge, given that the context of some of the tracks is a touch too ambiguous, a touch too – dare I say it – cheesy?
It’s difficult to decide how to rate Mirage Rock. I like the record, but then something deep inside of me is screaming ‘NO!’ and I can’t quite put my finger on why. There are hip-swinging grooves, classic rock riffs and cracking performances from each band member throughout. So what’s the problem? I’m torn … Ah-ha! Eureka! Perhaps the song formats are a little dated, perhaps Mirage Rock may not stand the test of time as successfully as the records it tries to replicate? The old clock on the wall will give us the answer soon enough. That said, it’s certainly a grower. Persevere with this record and you will reap the rewards. Neil Young, meet Mark Arm and ride the Crazyhorse together.
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