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Band of Horses embraced its South Carolina roots and channels raw emotions in its latest album

Band of Horses embraced its South Carolina roots and channels raw emotions in its latest album
February 2022

Look for Things are Great, out March 4

Next month, while touring in Europe, Band of Horses will release its sixth album Things are Great.

It’s fitting that a global pandemic began just as Band of Horses finished tracking an album titled Things Are Great, being released early next month. Bandleader Ben Bridwell readily admits that “complaining about something” is the one constant in his songwriting, so the tongue-in-cheek title only gained poignancy as the world fell apart.

But on an album with song titles like “In Need of Repair” and “Tragedy of the Commons,” Band of Horses still manages to deliver their characteristic optimism through surging choruses and Bridwell’s familiar, high-register yearning vocals. “Obviously something is very wrong over here,” admits Bridwell, commenting on the gray December sky (as well as the album’s song titles) while walking through his Mount Pleasant neighborhood one afternoon. “All of these grand frustrating themes come from a real place. I guess in a way, some of the suffering has led to a more invigorated—or just keen—sense of how I want to express myself.”

Then, Bridwell abruptly yells into the phone, “Baby, get out of that hole.” He’s quick to clarify: “It’s not a kid, it’s a dog!” It’s a humanizing moment that underscores his dual role as a touring rock star and his day-to-day life as a suburban dad of four girls. Bridwell was lauded as a rock savior after the band’s formation in Seattle in the mid-2000s. But his isn’t a case of grungy Pacific Northwest guitarist moving to the South to settle in fairer climes. Bridwell hails from Irmo, and his bandmates Creighton Barrett (drums) and Ryan Monroe (keys and guitar) are childhood friends and fellow South Carolina natives. They’re the only members who have stuck with Band of Horses through multiple lineup changes.

The promo for the song “Crutch” playfully teases “the new single from the third-best band in the Carolinas.” Watch the music video here.

The pared-down core—and a budding friendship with Charleston producer Wolfgang Zimmerman—led to a fun, more organic approach to the Things Are Great sessions. “The sloppy aspects on this record are maybe an asset to it,” says Bridwell, emphasizing how “Wolfie” put him at ease in the studio, inviting him in for no-pressure jam sessions.

What Bridwell might call slop in his playing, listeners will hear as authenticity. On the lead track, “Warning Signs,” Bridwell bellows, “You don’t want help,” before his voice breaks down into a digital mess. Those raw but intentional touches—along with Bridwell’s Midlands-bred drawl—convey the feeling that these 40-something rockers, long past their years of teenage angst, are still able to summon deep emotions and lay it out for the listener.

Watch the music video for the single "Crutch" from Band of Horses's album Things are Great, to be released in March.