Cease To Begin
by Ian McBride on October 7, 2007
Posted in: Uncategorized
For Band of Horses, the release of Everything All The Time in 2006 (whoa, that recently?) was met with mixed reviews. On the one hand, the cynics claimed we had yet another band making up for lack of musical umph by laying the reverb on the vocals with a heavy hand, and masking the questionable songwriting ability by composing genre-strattling, “elemental,” ethereal, vaguely structured tracks. On the other were those who felt a chill from the majesty of the vocals and the energy emenating from the whirlwind of sound. I stood somewhere in between these romantic and formalist stances – I enjoyed the listening experience but did not feel compelled to add to the Sub Pop shrine in my closet. Yet.
I was taking a nap on the couch at 11pm amongst goblins and drunks when Dakota and Teenager covered my face with Cease To Begin (no literally, they actually lay the jewel case on top of my face). And what I have found with this one is not altogether much different than before, except for one crucial thing: you trust this one. You don’t get a band that needs to try to be something. You get a band that writes songs with clear directions and that takes no note for granted – with some help of course. Much of the melodies seems to come straight from the notebook of label-mate James Mercer of The Shins with his strong pop sensibility and quirky hooks, while their presence, confidence, and range mirrors the veteranly steez of fellow Northwesterners Built to Spill. It really is quite a pleasure the whole way through, starting with the power anthem intro, “Is There A Ghost,” the weepingly sad “No One’s Gonna Love You,” the syncopated, jumpy, twangy “The General Specific” (enter Mercer), to the angsty longing of “Cigarettes Wedding Bands” (all mp3’s). It is not suggestive, it is direct – it is a journey, not a wandering. Move over Mr. Beam and Mr. Conchord, there’s room for everyone. Right next to the candle. Er, actually you can just take Mr. Rogue Wave’s place. They can go make out with Jack Johnson now on the Brushfire floor.