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Band of Horses: Loveliness for Its Own Sake

Band of Horses didn't waste time carving out an instantly recognizable sound: Between the majestically churning guitars and Ben Bridwell's soaring, high-pitched vocals, each song functions as a dreamy, instantly recognizable mini-anthem, epic in sound but still restrained in the right places.

For all its impeccably timed swoony grandeur, Band of Horses' sophomore album Cease to Begin peaks during its subtlest moment: a sweetly lazy ballad with the inexplicable title "Detlef Schrempf." Unless it's named for a different Detlef Schrempf, the title refers to a longtime NBA player and current Seattle SuperSonics assistant coach, but the song itself mostly sticks to warm platitudes: "Words can do more than harm," "Watch how you treat every living soul," et al.

For as often as it threatens to devolve into mawkishness, "Detlef Schrempf" is a study in rich, friendly atmosphere, with its cleanly picked guitar lines and loping pace keeping things bright and appealing. The overall effect feels sweetly hypnotic, illustrating that, for all its reverb-drenched grandiosity, Band of Horses knows when to fall back on loveliness for its own sake.

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This story originally ran on Oct. 26, 2007.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)