Search The Line of Best Fit
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The Lumineers' second LP is one of captivating simplicity

"Cleopatra"

Release date: 08 April 2016
8/10
Lumineers Cleopatra
07 April 2016, 17:30 Written by Ray Honeybourne
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The Lumineers’ first album, an engaging assortment of echoes of Americana, old and new, was something of a joyously ramshackle affair. Some compositions a little, sketchy, others effectively snappy. Live, they excelled, and there is a sense on Cleopatra that the vigour and enthusiasm evident in supporting The Civil Wars has now been allied to more considered, more disciplined songwriting.

The results are more consistently impressive. These are mature, more sophisticated compositions that, nevertheless, do not lose sight of the more distant pasts that provided much of their initial inspiration. There is more confidence here, a willingness to take ideas to more defined conclusions rather than, as at times on the first album, to change direction mid-song to incorporate a range of (at times) disparate points.

The title track shows an ability to balance hard rhythms with perfectly understated piano work, manifesting the thought that has gone into conveying urgency but never stridency. Though rooted in the old/new weird America, the album cuts loose with more twenty-first century energy on tracks like "Angela", as if the band (quite rightly) wants to show how far it has developed its own signature.

So revisiting familiar imagery, in "Long Way From Home", never feels just a tribute to any source material. There’s a craftsmanship here that’s built on understanding, rather than any notion of musical subservience to a past that might have proved stifling.

The Lumineers can do plaintive, with appropriately brittle guitar ("In My Eyes"), but the strength of the writing militates against any hint of the merely derivative, before concluding with a beautiful piano simplicity that is quite captivating. It’s an album that coheres more effectively than did the first, and it’s one that shows an adventurousness while staying within sight of the elemental spirit of its inspiration.

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