Album review: Band Of Horses - Mirage Rock

The Horses’ breezy, southern-fried Americana gets some extra lacquer with Mirage Rock. But is it enough to break them out of rock’s ante-chamber and into the spotlight?

Ben Bridwell and his four-legged friends have come a long way from their charmingly rough, lo-fi approach of yore, which was kicked truly into submission on major label debut Infinite Arms.

Yet the direct connection to the Americana and wayward rock that inspired Bridwell survives, mostly.

Sure, there’s the inevitable polish, but where Mirage departs is with its sunny disposition.

Opener Knock Knock is a carefree, upbeat, widescreen gambol through simple driving guitar pop, dressed with almost-twee handclaps, and a peppy, almost boisterous southern-fried Americana persists.

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Dumpster World’s grungey filling sandwiched by a folksy sway will please Neil Young fans no end, and vocal harmonies politely dress much of the rest.

When they decamp for heartfelt territory on Slow Cruel Hand, though, the result lacks emotional resonance.

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The lovelorn pain in Heartbreak On The 101 feels genuine at least; the rest, while gently rocking, is just a little glassy-eyed.

3 stars

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