‘BRIGHTSIDE’ is old news for The Lumineers fans | Culture
It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a decade since “Ho Hey” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100. The resounding success of the Lumineers would contribute to the revival of folk-rock and American music, infiltrating all independent cafes from the block. Ten years later, the Lumineers return with their fourth studio album “BRIGHTSIDE”, a nine-track project with old folk classics that the group has been exploring for years.
There’s nothing quite like the nostalgia of “The Lumineers” and “Cleopatra,” the band’s first two albums, but “BRIGHTSIDE” has its moments. The return of the “stomp and scream” genre is a tried-and-true formula for The Lumineers, and veteran fans will appreciate Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites’ dedication to craftsmanship.
However, the album falters a bit compared to its predecessors. “The Lumineers” and “Cleopatra” had granola staples such as “Stubborn Love”, “Ophelia” and “Sleep On The Floor” which led to a generation of fans learning to love the raw, stripped down sound. “III” sounded a bit different, perhaps because of the loss of cellist Neyla Pekarek, but the script was strong and unique and critics generally impressed.
“BRIGHTSIDE” is the mediocre product of the albums that preceded it. The unique and titular first track is reminiscent of “Cleopatra,” pleasing listeners with electric guitar backing tracks and a chorus you can’t help but move your head over. It’s a good start for the album, even if it stumbles afterwards.
Honestly, the singles are some of the best tracks on “BRIGHTSIDE”. “AM RADIO” begins with dripping acoustic guitar and ends with a cacophony of piano and background vocals, something fans have grown accustomed to over the past few years. It’s a nice throwback to their debut album and some of the strongest tracks from “Cleopatra”.
Too bad the rest of the album doesn’t follow with the same energy. The third track, “WHERE WE ARE”, starts extremely strong but ends with repetitive lyrics and a simple melody that feels overdone by the time the song finally ends. “BIRTHDAY” is reminiscent of “III,” but it was hard to hear that song as more than the backing track to an upbeat car ad.
“BIG SHOT”, the second single to be released from the album, is simplistic and a bit boring at times. The Lumineers never had a problem churning out jaw-dropping beats, but it seemed like this song had so much more potential than your average indie folk track, which Schultz says is “all about humility.”
“NEVER REALLY MINE” picks things up a bit, hitting rock-n-roll notes reminiscent of one of the band’s biggest influences, Bruce Springsteen. That being said, we’re already halfway through the album at this point, and nothing has stuck out for me other than the main track and “AM RADIO”. Unfortunately, “BRIGHTSIDE” is marked throughout by flippant lyrics and only somewhat punchy storylines, as opposed to “III” or even their debut album.
Despite the title, “ROLLERCOASTER” is monotonous and straightforward, marked only by repetitive piano and indicative but vague lyrics that spell out loss. “REMINGTON” is just musically odd, though the lyrics hark back to historical themes that were once staples of the band’s early hits.
“REPRISE” allows the album to end on a high note, incorporating a bit more of that kind of stomping and screaming that fans and passive listeners have come to love. Winking at the first track, “REPRISE” comes full circle with “BRIGHTSIDE”. Admittedly, it’s a small circle – at nine tracks lasting just 30 minutes, it’s a short listen – but it’s a good ending to a disappointing album.
The Lumineers never relied on splashy features or new-age instrumentals to produce a Billboard Top 100 hit, but that’s both a blessing and a curse in the music world we live in today. today. While true fans will appreciate Schultz and Fraites’ dedication to the craft, new listeners might turn their backs on “BRIGHTSIDE” and The Lumineers without the help of the 2010s-fueled craze around the Americana revival. and folk rock.