The Lumineers’ brand of folk pop shines bright.
2012, Dualtone Music
8.4 / 10.0
American listeners have shown a greater interest in folk music with the successes of such bands as The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, The Head & The Heart, and Alabama Shakes. Mumford & Sons, in particular, have had the most success, scoring high on the Billboard 200 with their album, Sigh No More, getting nominated and winning various awards. Mumford & Sons’ big break can be attributed to their crossover appeal into mainstream modern rock and alternative music where they sounded “original” despite a healthy and vibrant folk rock community (see The Avett Brothers). Now The Lumineers have started their ascension into the upper tier of folk rock bands that can only be labeled folk pop due to its growing admiration among casual listeners. However, what makes it much sweeter is that The Lumineers are pretty great.
Consisting of the core trio of Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites, and Neyla Pakarek, the band’s origin ties to New York where Schultz and Fraites turned to music while recovering from the death of Fraites’ brother Josh. Then after experiencing a “fickle” music scene and the high cost of living, Schultz and Fraites headed west to Denver, Colorado where they met Pakarek, gaining a cellist. Despite their New York beginnings, The Lumineers’ sound is distinctly Midwestern, rich in traditional folk and country rock with driving handclap and foot stomp moments. Best known for their commercial (literally) hit “Ho Hey”, the song rides that uncorked energy while Schultz sings, “I belong with you / You belong with me / Sweet…HEART”, a chorus that you can’t help but get behind or stuck in your head.
Besides rousing audience participation, The Lumineers’ arrangements effectively project tender moments. Pakarek’s cello commands attention on the touching “Dead Sea” where Schultz sings, “You told me I was like the Dead Sea / You’ll never sink when you’re with me / I’m like the Dead Sea / The nicest words you ever said to me”. Schultz’s voice is a blend of country and grunge. On the subdued but powerful “Slow It Down”, it sounds as if he’s hiding a pained growl behind his angst. I’m not sure any Nirvana fans will be swayed by those claims, but I doubt anyone can deny the blazing force sparked by Fraites’ percussion that not only gets listeners stomping along but adds potency to The Lumineers’ smaller songs like “Submarines”.
The Lumineers match their magnetic charm with grounded storytelling that never reaches beyond its means. Songs like “Big Parade” and “Charlie Boy” recall small town American living with characters that are easy to relate with people in our own lives. It’s another reason why The Lumineers’ music is so accessible and stirring among listeners. In case you were in need of a new leg exercise program, I fully endorse this album. You won’t be able to stop yourself from stomping along.
Purchase: The Lumineers – The Lumineers