Evolution, it’s a fact of life for a band trying to grow and push forward after being together nearly 10 years. Since first being recognized Sub Pop, an indie label based in their hometown of Seattle and one that’s spawned the careers of bands like Nirvana, Beach House and The Postal Service, the indie rock veterans Band of Horses have progressed through three albums, a major label leap to Columbia and even a Grammy nomination. They continue their journey on their latest album, Mirage Rock. Able to affect so many people in the past with their music, their success has also become somewhat of a double-edged sword: the expectations for this album were stratospheric. But they managed to deliver, just not exactly in the way we might have anticipated.

“Knock, Knock” starts off the record as an homage to Infinite Arms and the success that that album brought to the band. The lyrics to this song are as creative as ever, nearly leading the band to its victory lap, despite being the first track. Later, through a somber and acoustic Ben Bridwell, “Slow Cruel Hands of Time” begins to unveil an underlying theme of struggle. “Trapped for a moment / The sheriff’s department got the wrong guy / The town is revealed the lone / Visible winds through the fog” can be heard near the end of this ballad, perhaps conveying how difficult it might have been for Band of Horses to cope with their success.

’Knock Knock’

’Slow Cruel Hands Of Time’

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“Heartbreak 101” takes its place as the appropriate ending to this album. Describing Route 101, the road that connects drivers from Seattle to Los Angeles, it’s a personal song that turns quickly into a fighting mantra of sorts and delivers its message boldly: “Can’t think that I’d just slowly fade away”.

’Heartbreak 101’

Not trying to outdo their last album, Band of Horses have just been trying to survive it. Mirage Rock may not be what we expected, but it’s still a masterpiece. It may not earn a Grammy nod, but to believe that this single fact makes it an unworthy follow-up to Infinite Arms would mean to miss the album’s point entirely.

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