Bad news first: No song on Band of Horses’ sophomore album dazzles like either “The Funeral” or “The Great Salt Lake,” the twin pillars off the Sub Pop band’s blogosphere-beloved 2006 debut, Everything All the Time. So accordingly, Cease to Begin feels destined to disappoint many of the fans and critics who lionized the group as one of last year’s breakout success stories.
Still, those who push past initial letdowns and allow the disc more than a cursory spin could come to embrace it as a solid addition to their listening libraries, albeit an unexpectedly mellow one. For whatever reason—perhaps the exit of founding guitarist Mat Brooke, perhaps the remaining band members’ move from urban Seattle to bucolic South Carolina—the volume turns down noticeably after opening tracks “Is There a Ghost” and “Ode to LRC,” with only “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands” raising much ruckus over the remainder of the ballad-heavy LP.
That puts the burden on Ben Bridwell to carry the day (which he largely does) with his pained, high-pitched vocals and freshened-up lyrical musings on age-old themes of love and loss. “No revelations in the water, no tears into the booze,” he offers during final cut “Window Blues,” as if agreeing that his Band’s solid second effort could benefit from a few individually salient moments.
Band of Horses
Cease to Begin