Album of the Week: The Lumineers, 'Cleopatra'

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The Lumineers, 'Cleopatra'
The Lumineers, 'Cleopatra' (Dualtone Music)

The plight of the Lumineers in the wake of "Ho Hey" is similar to that experienced by myriad other bands who experience an enormous hit straight out of the gate: What's next?

At first glance, the answer seemed to be "women's names" as such songs were the first three the Denver-based band released from the new album: "Ophelia," "Angela" and the titular "Cleopatra" all make appearences in the record's first half. "Ophelia" rolls along on the strength of a catchy piano line and was a welcome re-introduction to the band after three-and-a-half years. "Angela" has an appropriately longing vibe, while "Cleopatra" works with one of the band's fastest tempos to date. This trio constitutes what is probably the best music the Lumineers have ever produced.

Slower songs have never been a strong suit for the band, and Cleopatra is no exception to this. The opener, "Sleep on the Floor," doesn't exactly sink its hooks in, and even at around two-and-a-half minutes each, songs like "Sick in the Head" and "Long Way from Home" are remarkably uncaptivating. The worst offender is probably the fallow melodies of "Gun Song," croaked out by vocalist Wesley Schultz like he was hard-pressed to invent a tune five minutes before recording.

Even at 34 minutes, the album can be slow going, particularly due to its best songs being clustered at the front. The band would perhaps be well-suited to incorporate multiple lead-vocalists to break the stretch of Schultz's voice — between Jeremiah Fraites and Neyla Pekarek, they have two more singers waiting in the wings who should be given more showcases.

One of the most compelling, ear-catching moments, then, is the lovely instrumental "Patience" that closes the record, and inspires more contemplation than anything that has preceded it. The Lumineers aren't going to collapse into themselves in the wake of their big hit; while they do have an avenue to creative growth, it seems like a thin and precarious one.

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  • The best of the in-studios: First Aid Kit, Fitz and the Tantrums and the Lumineers To celebrate Public Radio Music Month, we're having a daily vote for the best in-studio tracks from The Current's performance archive. We've gone through and picked some of the most beloved performances by the staff and by our audience. We'll play the winner during the Live Current track of the day the following day.
  • The Lumineers perform in The Current studios It's not difficult to imagine The Lumineers being from the Midwest - let's just go ahead and annex their hometown of Denver. Their roots revivalist image and solid harmonies are indicative of the kind of music this region has helped popularize over the years. Their story is one which many bands can connect with - slowly gaining popularity across a self-booked tour with just an EP in tow. The Lumineers have now gathered more than a few accolades to make their self-titled debut one of the most anticipated records this year, and they're already selling out venues in support of it.

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