Hymns For A Dark Horse – Bowerbirds

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Everyone (and his brother) has been raving about these new millennium, post-folk hippies. The British press absolutely adores them, and I think John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats would marry all three of them (Phil Moore, BethTacular, Mark Paulson), if he could. I’ve read at least three reviews that fall hard on the side of “one of the best albums of the year.” That’s a tall order, even in a year when there haven’t been a lot of stand-alone brilliant offerings. The comparisons to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago are easy to figure with the first song, “Hooves,” which is actually the best song on the album, “…While the wind blows low and tries to steal my horses / You’re the hooves that lead me through the forest…”, but it’s just not as arresting or instantly captivating as Bon Iver.

Sorry, kids. The sparse, semi-acoustic, old world template is in place, but the question always remains, “how are the songs?” There’s lots of rambling here and there, but there isn’t a firm destination in mind. They lose themselves completely on “The Marbled Godwit.” There are some moments of dusky bliss that hang in the air like Pinetop Seven. There’s even a moment or two that will make fans of Bright Eyes prick up their ears, but it’s just not the mind-expanding musical narcotic I thought it would be. Some people, when hearing this record, I believe, are hoping for something that’s just not here. Then again, aren’t we all, somewhere?