Nearly four years have passed since Ben Bridwell and company’s last album Mirage Rock (2012) emerged, with the 2014 live offering Acoustic at the Ryman serving as a fine stopgap between studio recordings. For the band’s fifth proper LP Why Are You OK, the group enlisted the production chops of Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle who complements their varied, melody-infused songs with a more sprawling, daydream-conjuring sheen.
Indeed, Band of Horses’ sonically varied and thoroughly enthralling latest sounds more akin to their early career triumphs Everything All the Time (2006) and Cease to Begin (2007) than the more straight-ahead rock of recent precursors Infinite Arms (2010) and Mirage Rock.
While there’s no filler or fluff to be found across the dozen songs here, a handful of tracks qualify as standout fare. After the expansive atmospherics of seven-minute opener “Dull Times / The Moon,” the rollicking, reverb-laden “Solemn Oath” instantly reinforces the group’s penchant for inspired, sun-soaked country-rock anthems. The wistful “In a Drawer,” which finds Bridwell revisiting the innocence and listlessness of more youthful days, and the contemplative, soaring reverie “Lying Under Oak” are both undeniably gorgeous.
A languid ode to the redemption of returning home to the solace of family following time away on tour, the reflective “Whatever, Wherever” is Band of Horses at their most sweetly sentimental. To round out the whole affair, the group picks up the pace and swagger on the propulsive country stomper “Throw My Mess” and infectious lead single “Casual Party,” which convincingly laments the insipid, forced social gatherings we all find ourselves suffocated by from time to time.
With spring winding down toward its inevitable climax, Why Are You OK promises to be the perfect aural accompaniment to the summer days and evenings ahead, and certainly a fine addition to the ever-evolving Band of Horses canon.
Notable Tracks: “In a Drawer” | “Lying Under Oak” | “Solemn Oath” | “Throw My Mess”
SEE Band of Horses on Tour