Band of Horses, Cease to Begin
Building momentum, racing at full speed, slowing down and beginning again
With their 2006 debut Everything All The Time, Seattle's Band of Horses introduced themselves as part fusion, part reinvention of their influences — namely, My Morning Jacket, Neil Young and the Shins. Cease To Begin isn't drastically different from the group's first outing; Band of Horses focus on what they're good at — reverb-soaked guitars; thick, dreamy tenor yelps; hard-hitting pop hooks; tales of heartbreak, small towns and ghosts — and that's okay. If anything, tracks like "Ode to LRC," "Island on the Coast" and "The General Specific" are even more immediate than Everything.
Album opener "Is There A Ghost" has only two lines — "I could sleep when I lived alone/ Is there a ghost in my house?" — repeated through the song, but it starts chilling and minimal before a suspended cymbal signals a barrage of steady drum blasts that crescendo alongside Ben Bridwell's voice. The tempo slows for the heartbroken duo of "No One's Gonna Love You" and "Detlef Schrempf," before picking back up for the rollicking, piano- and handclap-backed "The General Specific," which smacks of late-'90s Wilco. Bridwell and company refuel with the ambient 50-second interlude "Lamb on the Lam (In the City)," which is followed by the exhilarating "Islands on the Coast," in which Bridwell cries from the top of his register down, "It's only awful as the hell that you know." Band of Horses are aptly named: They build momentum, race at full speed, then slow down and begin again.