From 'Mumford & Sons' to 'The Avett Brothers', 'Fleet Foxes' to 'Of Monsters and Men', folk-pop/rock music has never been so prevalent, brimming with hand claps and sing-alongs since Arcade Fire began leading them.
Emerging as the new kids on the block are 'The Lumineers', a 3 piece from Denver, Colorado, formed back in 2005 by Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites (before finding Neyla Pekarek through an internet ad) but only now releasing their self-titled debut album.
Where most bands these days look for that new, original sound to enhance the digital revolution, 'The Lumineers' do superbly in taking it back to simplicity. Yes there are sing-alongs that will make your feet tap - 'Big Parade' and 'Ho Hey' - and piano ditty's 'Submarine' and 'Flapper Girl' will bring out the bopper in you, but the record as a whole boasts real depth. From prohibition to heartache, beauty queens to pride, a great number of stories are told through a myriad of emotions, but all of it is easy listening and mostly charming. There are deeper, more haunted moments - 'Slow It Down' is a beautifully evocative chamber piece and 'Dead Sea' hints at something quite raw perhaps drawn from the band's own respective lives.
There's a hint of Dylan in lead singer Wesley Schultz's vocals, maybe a little Ryan Adams, but mostly I had to stop myself comparing him to anyone else and just appreciate the talent that he has, the soul-screeching finale of 'Morning Song' proving this no end.
It's extremely refreshing to listen to an album that isn't over produced, the simple guitar strumming and uncomplicated piano riffs are driven from a place full of heart and experience and with this there is great clarity. I feel like I can really hear this band, the words and the instruments, the stories and the ideas, all presented with great skill and balance, never too much of anything.
'The Lumineers' do play the folk-band shtick, wearing the requisite hats, braces and button-up shirts, but never does it prove a distraction it simply makes them more charming, entertaining, giving you something else to enjoy with the music. They even tick the increasingly popular box nowadays of calling your violinist a 'fiddle' player.
I defy anyone not to listen to this record and clap their hands with a big smile on your face. 'The Lumineers' have a lot of love to give, but they don't force this upon you, instead they remind you to take a step back from your life and remember those times when you felt really good. Life, love, loss and the like are all thrown in to the mix, fleshed out across timeless melodies and feet tapping anthems that really make you want to join their party. In my opinion, everyone needs a bit of what 'The Lumineers' have to offer even if you don't think you do (maybe especially if you don't think you do), so take a chance and they may just brighten up your day. After all, as they cry out on the more serene 'Charlie Boy', “...don't hang your head, love should make you feel good”.