Beards ‘n’ harmony: Reviews of Band of Horses’ new ‘Mirage Rock’


Band of Horses‘ connections to Asheville include longtime Ashevillean Tyler Ramsey on guitar and vocals, plus former Ashevillean Bill Reynolds on bass. Also of note is plenty of recording time at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording Studios, where the band recorded its Grammy-nominated 2010 record, Infinite Arms.

While not receiving quite as many good reviews as Infinite Arms, Mirage Rock is getting generally favorable reviews. It was produced by Glyn Johns, who’s worked with Eric Clapton and Ryan Adams.

According to Wikipedia, lead singer Ben Bridwell explained that Mirage Rock has “a looser vibe than our previous records,” and described the album as “Haphazard…loose and raw at times…letting our hair down,” with “more humour” and a “celebratory vibe.”

Check out a few reviews here:

Mirage Rock on Metacritic, score of 67 out of 100

Paste Magazine, 80 out of 100

Opener “Knock Knock” establishes the Webster’s definition of “mirage rock.” It’s garage-rock intensity with sublime power-pop sweetness: “Greatness achieved / and darkness defeated,” Bridwell emotes over dirty electric guitars, “ooh-ahh” falsettos and perky handclaps. It’s a bouncy, windows-down anthem perfectly suited for an end-of-summer barbecue, with an air of cathartic pop mystery stirring under the surface.

Spin, along with Pitchfork, pretty much thought it sucked

Bridwell’s gift for assembling catchy melodies and big, relatable sentiments into neat and clean three-minute packages– typified by the band’s irresistibly heart-tugging breakout song “The Funeral”– is obvious and not without merit. But over and over again on Mirage Rock, this talent is used to serve up Americana-flavored junk food devoid of substance. The back-porch shuffler “Long Vows” and the annoyingly repetitive “Shut-In Tourist” are essentially placeholders for better classic-rock songs by Bread and Crosby, Stills & Nash, lazily flashing soft-rock signifiers without adding any depth of their own.

Consequence of Sound says it’s not a classic, but worthy of being part of your music collection

One common thread throughout Band of Horses’ first three releases is the harmonic dominance over every song. The vocals on Mirage Rock add another chapter in their brief history, whether it’s Bridwell harmonizing on top of his own work or joining with keyboardist Ryan Monroe and guitarist Tyler Ramsey. These moments add unity to several songs, namely the chorus in “Slow Cruel Hands of Time”. It’s a track destined to confuse the casual listener into believing they’re listening to Fleet Foxes. That’s not a knock; both bands happen to feature fantastic harmonies and even better beards.

 Listen to Mirage Rock on Soundcloud here.