Things I learned this week:
1. I really like The Lumineers.
2. The lead singer looks a lot like Aaron Ivey.
3. If you do a Google Image Search for “Lumineers,” you will get a ton of images of teeth.
I’m writing this review because of (1) and despite (3). Maybe you’ll agree with me on (2).
Think of this review not as an overdue amalgamation of some similarly great folkish albums from 2012, like Dry The River, Bowerbirds, or Of Monsters and Men (although Eric reviewed their debut album, I’m also a fan). Think of it, instead, as – well, what I suppose a positive review should be – a thoughtful, constructive critique of a really nice album that deserves attention on its own merit.
I feel like I have to present this caveat because there’s a burgeoning stigma that the neo-folk-indie-pop genre has finally reached its saturation point and Now Everybody Sounds The Same, just like what happened with the ’90s and grunge. Personally I think we have a few more Heads and Hearts and Civil Wars to crank out before we’re quite there, but agree to disagree, I suppose.
With the release of their eponymous debut, The Lumineers look to be the latest and greatest bearers of the folk flag, and there’s more than enough good music here to justify that. The trio churns out songs that are instantly catchy and decidedly lighthearted, zigging “carefree” where Dry the River or Local Natives might zag “a little too serious.” And it’s easy to love a band that’s just having fun, especially if they have the musical chemistry to back it up.
Chemistry isn’t something The Lumineers are short of, which is easy to tell by the way each member plays off of the others. And there are “Ho”s and “Hey”s aplenty on the album, as you might expect from any indie folk outfit worth its stripes these days. Not to be outdone by Monsters, Men, Magnetic Zeros and the likes, they even have a song called “Ho Hey,” which is kind of like Creed having a song called NNNYEAUUUGH. But enough of comparing The Lumineers to everyone, which I promised I wouldn’t do. Watch the video for “Ho Hey,” which just happens to be my favorite song on the album, and if it doesn’t make you happy then you need to grow a soul, jerk.
Other insanely catchy numbers include piano plunker “Submarines” and foot stomper/hand clapper “Big Parade”. At the same time, the album has the perfect balance of levity and gravity, the latter of which is evident in “Slow it Down,” “Stubborn Love,” and “Charlie Boy”. Most tracks are variations on the piano/guitar/mandolin/percussion/reverb recipe; add claps and shouts to taste.
They may not be inventing the wheel, but they’re not reinventing it either, and for that The Lumineers deserve some credit. Their debut album is a delight to listen to and hopefully a sign of more good things to come.
(5) Ho Hey
(7) Stubborn Love
(8) Big Parade