I've always been a fairly hardcore Lumineers fan, and their self titled first album was something I jammed to for ages, and sometimes even now, four years later, I still add the songs to playlists. 'Morning Song' and 'Flowers in Your Hair' still definitely resonate with me, and in all honesty when I name those titles, I feel bad for all the rest of the songs on that album that I love and am not mentioning. Maybe I'm just a sentimental asshole but the lyricism has always cut deep.
I hadn't been keeping up with The Lumineers and had no idea a new album was on its way until the single 'Ophelia' was released, and let me tell you, it was a *very* pleasant surprise. 'Ophelia was catchy and deep in all the right ways, and was stuck in my head, and my playlists, for weeks. 'Cleopatra' and 'Angela" dropped next and I was still very much on board for the new album. I'm pretty sure that the name titles are a nod to the deluxe songs from the self-titled album, 'Elouise' and 'Darlene.'
'Cleopatra' is out today and has surpasses every single one of my expectations. First, let me recommend the deluxe version, because the 'bonus' tracks are just as good, if not better, than the rest.
First is 'Sleep On The Floor,' which is a breathtaking ode to wanderlust. This is for everyone feeling trapped and helpless. With resounding lyrics pointing out the fallacies in religion and the thought process of someone who needs to get away, 'Sleep On The Floor is a resounding opening to a killer album. 'Ophelia' follows with the same feel as all their old songs, the same well-defined beat and head-nodding feel with killer lyrics.
Next is 'Cleopatra' and with lyrics like 'but I was late for this/late for that/late for the love of my life/and when I die alone/when I die alone/when I die I'll be on time' it's hard not to feel the vibes. Again, distrust in religion is a pretty strong theme here, and it only adds the the depth and reliability. 'Gun Song' is a nod to 'Big Parade' and definitely 'Charlie Boy' off their self-titled, and brings back the military references in a not-so-subtle way. The song seems to be an analysis of a father-son relationship with the less than sweet realization that that relationship is awfully damaged. 'The things I knew when I was young/some were true and some were wrong/And one day I pray I'll be more than my father's son/but I don't own a single gun.'
'Angela' follows and in all honesty I didn't love it initially, but it's really grown on me. It feels a little weird singing along when I don't know an Angela and it sucks a little bit of the universality out of it, but the catchiness outweighs that (I suppose.) 'In The Light' details how difficult it is to let some things go. Every word thus far seems so deliberate and purposeful, I'm starting to see why this album took four years, 'Gale Song' is a little boring, when compared next to the rest of the album, but it feels like it was a personal song that needed to be written. 'Long Way From Home' feels like a weary traveller's anthem, and though short, I kind of love it. The lyrics 'sleep like a stone' feel very characteristic to The Lumineers and there are more hospital references, bringing continuity to the album.
Next is 'Sick In The Head,' another short song with deep resonance. I'm almost surprised The Lumineers took on mental illness, but also not. I think the song is an honest portrayal and neither tries to hard nor overreaches. The Lumineers take was careful yet still poignant. 'My Eyes' is interesting and unclear 'too young to know/too old to admit' and I'd love more background on the song and the personal context it holds. The last song in the album, save for the four deluxe songs is 'Patience' which is one of my favorites. 'Patience' is short and instrumental but beautiful nonetheless.
Moving on the the deluxe tracks, 'Where The Skies Are Blue' is a little more joyful and feels like 'Flowers in Your Hair.' The playfulness of the track really complements the instrumental that it followed. Next is 'Everyone Requires A Plan' and to be thoroughly honest, I have no idea what this song means. It's beautiful and has the same sound as everything else The Lumineers have done, but the lyrics are very unclear. 'White Lie' has to be my favorite song off the album. I love the sound and the lyrics are incredible. The haunting piano melody is guaranteed to echo through your head forever and if I could live in this song, I would. I would argue that this should have been on the actual album, if not the first single, it's that good. The album closes with an acoustic demo of 'Cleopatra' which I understand, and I liked, but in all honesty, I would have probably preferred another full track, but I'm selfish and I see the artistic merit of what they did. I really like the little dialog before the song, but I won't spoil it, you'll have to listen for yourself. The acoustic demo itself is arguably just as good as the normal version and adds something interesting to the tone.
Stream the deluxe version below via Spotify and look for (a lot) of these songs on upcoming Bruised Knuckles playlists (for probably the next four years.)
What we're listening to.