Album Review: The Lumineers

The debut record from The Lumineers wallops with a roots-rock punch of backwoods-via-NYC soul, mixed with giddy realism and music surprising and powerful.

Riding the rootsy sound, the Denver, Colo-based band, was founded by two New York City guys, guitarist Jeremiah Fraites and drummer Wesley Schultz.  They added multi-instrumentalist Neyla Pekarek through a craigslist ad when the pair moved west. They have been touring with another guitarist and bass player.

The band sold out a Friday, May 25 show at Radio Radio, and added a second show on Thursday. When they rolled into Indianapolis, it was with a self-titled debut full-length effort that reflects an Avett Brothers influence, but has echoes of an acoustic Gaslight Anthem, Springsteen-esque musical spiritualism, Arcade Fire majesty, and a hint of Blood on the Tracks-era Dylan.

“Ho Hey” is the song they have been playing on the TV stops (in the past two months, the band has appeared on “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and on “Conan”) and smartly builds with shouted backing vocals, a kick drum banging  in 4/4 time, and  a loose recording full of talk and echo.

“Stubborn Love” is a melancholy ode to not letting go even when you should, driven by acoustic guitar and violin.  “The Big Parade” mines gospel roots (“All my life I was blind, now I see”), with a soft, incessant backbeat.

“Flowers in Your Hair” opens the record with Dylan storytelling – a short two-minute taste of what is to come.  “Classy Girls” follows, telling the story of a meeting at a bar, a full-on narrative with a thrilling chorus.

“Morning Song” ends the album with a crashing electric guitar and lots of space to sing about a girl leaving.  Jeff Tweedy and Wilco would be proud. Songs reward patience, as opening notes build to include more instruments.

The cinematic words and sugar-coated rustic hooks of the record win us over; it’s a very good, – and at time s thrilling — gospel-stamped, folk-fried American rock album.

Lumineers website

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