Ben Bridwell's swelling sonic ambitions were apparent early in his musical career. Now the frontman and main brain behind Band of Horses, he had a knack for pushing the borders of jangly, somewhat mopey rock toward outer space when he was part of Seattle indie act Carissa's Wierd. After that outfit dissolved, he and another member formed Band of Horses, and things got even more cosmic. In the early days, the group performed with stripped-down, honesty-peddling acts such as Iron and Wine and mined the same kind of emotional tenor. It struck a chord in the rainy Pacific Northwest and eventually scored the group a deal with Sub Pop.
But as Band of Horses has evolved, its sound has become more grandiose: a gauzy, gently trippy cloud floating over Bridwell's naked-soul lyrics. It's the kind of introspective but dreamily textured and expansive stuff that seems tailor-made for soundtracks and cameo appearances. (Indeed, the band's tracks have appeared regularly in emotional montages on high-profile TV shows including Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and 90210, as well as films such as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Zombieland.) Despite the ever-encroaching threat of a Death Cab-style mainstreaming, though, Bridwell and company come across as earnest rather than opportunist. Meanwhile, they seem to boast an endless supply of lovely chords and hopelessly romantic lyrics, more of which can be found on the band's upcoming third studio album, Infinite Arms, due out May 15 on Sub Pop.
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