The Lumineers

The Lumineers

Dualtone Records, 2012

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Finally, the US has its answer to folk rock sensations Mumford & Sons. Hailing from Denver, Colorado, this winsome group has crafted a collection of songs that’s deceptively simple and warmly candid. Undoubtedly you’ve heard lead single “Ho Hey,” which has dominated airwaves and television and went double platinum in December. It’s truly a perfect encapsulation of The Lumineers’ sound, a barely three minute ditty of tambourine-accented sweetness and a sweeping sing-along chorus (“I belong with you / You belong with me / You’re my sweetheart”). But the rest of their self-titled debut is equally charming, blending upbeat Americana with more bluesy tunes, all anchored by the band’s chemistry and lead singer Wesley Schultz’s emotive vocals.

The Lumineers welcomes you into their world with the instantly likeable “Flowers In Your Hair,” whose subtle acoustic fingerpicking grows into a propulsive swirl of stamping rhythms all in the span of under two minutes. There’s a throwback quality to their sound that differentiates them from the roots revival, which can be seen in cuts like the jangly “Submarines” and “Flapper Girl” with its muted, tinkling piano and Prohibition-era lyrics. You also get the sense listening to this disc that the band – made up by Shultz on vocals, drummer Jeremiah Fraites, and cellist Neyla Pekarek – genuinely vibes with each other, which lends the material its cohesive, ebullient sound. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While the album is overflowing with the positively jubilant, Americana energy that makes “Ho Hey” such a slam-dunk single, the trio is even more intriguing when they strip down to a darker mood. “Dead Sea” explores the unease of breaking into the New York City music scene and eventually morphs into a strings-laden, oddly sweet declaration: “You told me I was like the dead sea /You’ll never sink when you are with me.” But the real stunner comes with “Slow It Down.” Schultz’s voice aches when he sings, “I feel her filth in my bones / Wash off my hands ‘til it’s gone / The walls they’re closing in / With velvet curtains.” The track is outfitted with little more than slow-plucked acoustic guitar, and you feel the space between every sound with exquisite sadness. With “Stubborn Love” following in hot pursuit, you get a one-two punch of lovelorn torch songs to keep the album churning towards its close. This one is another standout, the harmonies echoing like a haunting and the sawing of the mandolin combining well with lines like “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all / The opposite of love is indifference.” Schultz in particular is a natural frontman, modulating his vocals between the rising chorus and the more jagged verses so that every word rings true.

The Lumineers sets itself apart from other releases of the same ilk in that it’s infinitely listenable and immediately likeable. The songs are simple without being plain, the lyrics and chords washing over you like a story. This is a strong debut that portends great potential.

Rating: B+

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