Cease to Begin

For those who prefer their indie rock with a big dose of beauty, look no further than South Carolina's Band of Horses. Like their equally crystalline debut, Cease to Begin is long on dreamlike, rootsy songs that top churning guitars with glacially pretty, reverb-slathered vocals. "The General Specific" and "Detlef Schrempf" are as tuneful as almost any song you'll hear this year, and "Marry Song" is a harmonized slo-mo ballad begging to be used in a pensive end-of-episode sequence on some sappy TV drama. The lyrics — long on generalized twentysomething dissatisfaction, short on details — are also a little too TV-ready, leaving all this prettiness a bit hollow. But Cease to Begin is expertly made — the indie-rock equivalent of a box of gourmet truffles or a designer wool sweater to take the edge off a frigid day.

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