Look, I never would have thought of myself as a big Lumineers fan. I still wouldn?t even necessarily say I?m a big ?fan.? But as I listened to their latest album, III, I realized I?ve kept pace with the band across their three studio albums. They?re fine. They?re good. And they?re getting better, the impetus for this exercise in chronology. The folk lite group sticks to increasingly deeper basics, channeling it through the indie movement that popped up in the late 2000s/early 2010s and yielded some great new artists as well as insufferable pretenders. The Lumineers are neither, but they?re worth paying attention to?I say about a band that is already hugely popular. Whatever, I?m just couching my opinions on their records within the context that I?ve never sung the praises of The Lumineers too loudly?but maybe I should.
#3 ? THE LUMINEERS (2012)
Favorite track: ?Ho Hey?
I think part of my issue with The Lumineers is that I would never have described them as even remotely ?challenging.? What I mean by that is that it?s pretty easy to become disengaged with their songs. This is most clear with their debut self-titled, a breezy collection of tracks that doesn?t really have a lot of staying power, never diving deep enough into pop rock hooks nor wholly relying on folk-lore (get it hahahaha). THE LUMINEERS is not an unpleasant listen, it?s just not a memorable one. I think that was my biggest problem with the group; they just didn?t light my fire, as it were, in either direction of opinion. ?Ho Hey,? the big single from the group and probably their most immediately recognizable song, eschews that a bit with some more clear catchiness.
#2 ? CLEOPATRA (2016)
Favorite track: ?Ophelia?
But things picked up a bit with The Lumineers? sophomore effort. CLEOPATRA has a richer sound, a more discernible and engaging flow, and more than one song that sticks in your head. ?Ophelia,? the big single from this album, stands out to me. It feels like CLEOPATRA was a bigger step away from the twee indie folk rock from the aforementioned period I described. It?s a bit more somber, but it?s also better for it.
#1 ? III (2019)
Favorite track: ?It Wasn?t Easy to Be Happy for You?
But as I mentioned, it was the band?s latest album, released just on September 13, that made me reevaluate their work. The Lumineers, with III, finally fused a folk pop sensibility (and it was pop, their leanings were never toward ?rock?) with, well, actually effective pop songwriting. And III?s songs aren?t shallow; like the best pop songs, they are based in simplicity (the twee folk part dialed down into potent Americana) but augmented by comprehensive production. ?It Wasn?t Easy to Be Happy for You? installs earworms alongside ?Donna? and ?Gloria.? The rest of the album is charged with more energy; like I said, this isn?t a rock record, but it commands your attention more than the Starbucks background music that could be found across The Lumineers? previous two albums. And look, Starbucks background music isn?t terrible, it?s fine. III is more than fine, though, and I really hope The Lumineers continue breaking out of the movement and era that is, sometimes rightfully, mocked.