The first thing I thought when hearing The Lumineers for the first time (read: this week) was: Where did these guys come from?
In about a week’s time, quite literally, this Americana indie-folk act has apparently gone from relative obscurity within the Denver music scene to gaining national attention, being featured on iTunes, and even landing a spot on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson—all coinciding with Tuesday’s release of their self-titled debut full-length album. (Whoever is handling these guys’ PR, I want some of that.)
Of course, nothing survives on hype alone, and getting national attention means nothing if you don’t have music that people actually want to listen to. But The Lumineers do have it. In spades. I tell you, I love this record. It’s a remarkable collection of singable melodies, handclaps and drum stomps, coupled with poignant, insightful lyrics sung by lead vocalist Wesley Schultz in that raw, passion-laden voice of his. Much of the recording sounds almost like it was recorded in a barn. (That’s a compliment—this is Americana-folk, after all.) In fact, the record’s imperfections are one of its most endearing qualities, because it feels unpolished and real. Authentic.
Must-listens on the record are really too many to count—just listen to the whole thing—but standout moments include the playful “Classy Girls” (“Classy girls don’t kiss in bars, you fool”); the melancholy “Slow It Down” (“It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all / The opposite of love’s indifference”); and the extremely catchy first single “Ho-Hey” (video below). It’s a bit of a paradox that with the album’s intentional raw quality, there really isn’t a misfire on the whole record. It all sounds like it belongs there.
While The Lumineers fall squarely into the roots music/folk category, their music reminds me of a lot of things—and not just the obvious comparisons people will make to Mumford and Sons or the Avett Brothers. I hear a bit of Dylan in there; I hear a bit of Rod Stewart; I hear a bit of Ryan Adams. But most of all—I hear passion. That unbridled passion that results in missed notes and broken tones, but captivates you and makes you want to keep listening. I’m so glad they came on the scene; The Lumineers is a band that deserves to be heard.
ALBUM RATING: 5 stars (out of five)