Bands jumping to a major label usually become more commercial, not less, right? It’s painful to say, but Band of Horses’ third release makes one long for the proverbial record-label suit saying, “I don’t hear a single.’’ After success with powerful tear-jerkers like “Funeral’’ and “Is There a Ghost,’’ Band of Horses has veered hard off the commercial highway onto a dusty, rural service road. It’s a detour that necessitates a stark reduction in speed and power, which isn’t a bad idea considering the band’s music has been licensed into ubiquity through TV and advertisements. The quieter, largely acoustic, choral-country approach here shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. This sort of sunset-on-the-prairie folk has always been in the band’s mix, but it’s previously been broken up by uplifting guitar phosphorescence and singalong choruses. The honky-tonk slap and sweet harmonies of “Compliments’’ and “Laredo’’ and the stam-peding “NW Apt.’’ provide a charge, while “Dilly’’ is a breezy, light-FM ride. Here’s hoping this flirtation with the mainstream doesn’t last long for a usually exceptional band. (Out tomorrow)
Band of Horses opens for Pearl Jam at the TD Garden tonight.