The Lumineers Give More Shoe Gazing Than Head Nodding On ‘Cleopatra’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


lumineersRiding piggyback to Mumford and Sons as purveyors of the new populist folk, The Lumineers made a strong case their first time out that indeed, like the Mumfords, they’d be a band to reckon with. Their song “Ho Hey” practically became the new mainstream anthem, thanks to a catchy chorus that deemed it a popular sing-along, a radio favorite and part of the summer’s soundtrack. Little matter that the rest of the band’s repertoire never ascended to those heights. The Lumineers had their hit and it was enough to net some notice

Fast forward four years and we find the band eyeing a challenge common to every artist facing their follow-up. Having another song in their back pocket as catchy and contagious as “Ho Hey” undoubtedly would have helped, but might also have brought accusations that they were merely repeating their formula. So instead they ignored the obvious by taking more of a laid back and seemingly nonchalant approach to this sophomore set. Apart from “Ophelia” and “Cleopatra,” it offers little with the potential to set the charts alight, given the fact that little here offers any kind of instant embrace. In its stead, it mines a sound that’s not nearly as immediate or even as accessible. For the most part, Cleopatra creates a slow drift, manifest in a sound that’s far too elusive for immediate gratification. More shoe gazing than head nodding, it takes a lazy spin at a leisurely pace, allowing the possibility listeners may find themselves dozing off along the way.

To be sure, there are several songs here that provide momentary pleasures, “Sleep On The Floor” and “Angela” among them. But that onetime feeling of Saturday night celebration has now been dissipated and replaced by a hazy hangover the Sunday morning after. How this affects their continuing trajectory remains to be seen. After all, immediate success does often lead to a sophomore slump. While Cleopatra may seduce the faithful, it would be far better if next time the Lumineers are able to regain their groove.

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