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Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. The lucid and hazy sound of lingering shoegazer guitars textured with haunting vocals reverberates around the room. Your body floats upwards and you're transported in to a dreamlike state by Band of Horses, one of America's brightest indie hopes, with their second album Cease to Begin.
Band of Horses rose, in 2004, like the phoenix from the ashes, from heavy-hearted Carissa's Weird, formed by Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. The Horses in their current canter also include Rob Hampton (guitar) and Creighton Barrett (drummer), however Mat Brooke left in 2006 to focus on his other band, Grand Archives. The newly-formed band quickly gained attention from Sub Pop, after Iron and Wine's Sam Beam, a family friend of Bridwell, asked them to support his band on tour. Their debut album *Everything All The Time *was released in 2005, drawing musical comparisons with Neil Young, The Flaming Lips, and The Shins.
The difference between the new and the old album is distance, both emotional and physical. The last album made you feel fragile and scared; if you dared to hug someone you might start to cry and not stop. *Cease To Begin *brings optimism, contentment, and love, if you hug someone now you're likely to kiss them too. This new direction must be heavily influenced by the decision of band members to move from Seattle to Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, to be closer to their families.
The first song on the album, "Is There a Ghost", delivers like a medieval herald trumpeting the arrival of the king. The delicacy of sound come with the confidence and maturity of a band who have found their calling. The ethereal voices and crashing, gentle guitars are still there but with a stronger dynamic. As the album progresses there's no anticlimax, with songs radiating into a harmonized melting pot. Then, just as you get comfortable, "The General Specific" hits and the tone changes completely to happy-clappy Americana, followed by "Island On The Coast"; an instant indie dance floor hit. It finishes, much as it started, with the cascade of warm, atmospheric purity of "Marry Song" and "Windows Blues". Like a journey that has gone full circle Cease To Begin has truly come home, so just lie back and enjoy.