The Lumineers – Cleopatra Review

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Since the colossal success that 2012’s jaunty and unavoidable ballad Ho Hey brought, The Lumineers have gradually slipped into the shadows. Their self-titled debut mostly established the Colorado-based five-piece to be the sprightly younger sibling of Mumford and Sons, with a track list dominated by playful and light-hearted numbers (Submarines, Stubborn Love) but balanced by the subdued and sincere (Slow it Down, Dead Sea). Recently, they have re-emerged from the abyss to craft their latest statement in the form of second studio album, Cleopatra.
This is an album of two halves. Listeners are initially eased in with simplistic folk-y guitar riffs paired with equally basic percussion in the first 1 minute and 47 seconds of opener Sleep on the Floor, before it effortlessly moulds itself into a jovial number with an underlying rock theme – a combination that can only be described as quintessentially ‘The Lumineers.’ The following track, Ophelia, travels down a similar path. As the track that resembles Ho Hey most, it has a blues-like vibe with an infectious chorus and a twinkling piano section, making it the track best fashioned for radio. A recurring subject matter is apparent just from the titles of the first few songs: Ophelia, Cleopatra, Angela. The album is splattered with interesting personalities, which makes for an enticing array of songs. This, alongside songwriters Wesley Schultz and Jeramiah Fraites’ obviously maturing lyricism, sets their second album a step above from the sometimes puerile and monotonous tracks featured on the debut. The hand-clapping and foot-tapping Angela and soft acoustic track In The Light guide the way for the second half of the album. From the earnest Gale Song to the apt instrumental finale Patience, the tracks have an increasing likeness to the solemn and gentle numbers of The Lumineers. Songs 7-11 are decent, but when positioned side-by-side places the second half of the album on the verge of tedious; a definite disappointment when in comparison to the energetic gems they’ve managed to produce.
The stand-out track of the album is most likely Angela. It doesn’t deviate too far from the systematic structures of a velvety acoustic intro and rock-piano build to shape the song into a pleasing ballad, yet it is the song that is the most evident of the fun the band are having, and invites listeners to join in, especially towards the conclusion. If you’re a fan of the more restrained and forlorn guitar compositions of the debut, My Eyes is the best option. Fairly similar to an ancestor – Slow it Down – the song features a passionate vocal performance from Schulz, backed with a hearty piano and an electric guitar. Even more stripped back is Long Way from Home; simply Schultz’s fervent voice alongside a distinctly folk guitar.
In conclusion, Cleopatra presents glimmers of twenty-first-century folk genius that decelerates into melancholy numbers that flips the good mood provoked by the first few tracks on its head. There’s no doubting The Lumineers are a talented bunch, but whether the second half of album number two represents this to its full potential is questionable.

The Lumineers – Cleopatra = 6/10

 

 

Eleanor Chivers

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