Four years ago, Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites and Neyla Pekarek, better known as The Lumineers, took the world by storm with their hit single “Ho Hey.” At one point, it became impossible to escape the infectious beat of the track, as it was played on just about every radio station.
As the years passed and the band remained relatively reclusive, the question begged to be answered: were The Lumineers this generation’s latest one-hit wonder? Or would they come out of left field with a sophomore release as good as the first?
With the release of their second album, “Cleopatra,” on April 8, The Lumineers’ fate as a one-hit wonder band is yet to be determined. The band went a more folky route, a deviation from the popularity of “Ho Hey,” for their latest album, which is sure to discourage those looking for more like their famous single. As a whole, “Cleopatra” is nothing special; a bit of a disappointment considering the suspense that was built up prior to its release.
Clocking in at a measly 33 minutes, the album feels rushed and unfinished and lacks a solid conclusion. The release of lead single “Ophelia” instilled hope for their fan-base that the trio would avoid sinking into a hole they couldn’t afford to dig themselves out of and it does a good job keeping their sophomore album from completely sinking into oblivion.
As a whole, the album relies heavily on the instrumentals to put weight behind Schultz’s powerful lyrics. This works best in title track “Cleopatra,” where the light guitar strummed in the background adds weight to meaningful lyrics like, “And I left the footprints, the mud stained on the carpet/And it hardened like my heart did when you left town.”
Near misses, like “Sick In The Head” and “Gun Song,” would be better suited as more uplifting tracks, as opposed to the solemn ballads that they exist as now. As is, the songs are good, but not great — an accurate summary of the album as a whole.
“Sleep On The Floor,” arguably the best track off the album, is a taste of what the masses wanted; “Ho Hey” 2.0, if you wish. Though nowhere near as popular or infectious as their most well-known track, there are definitely hints of capitalizing on the song’s popularity in the drumline and guitar. This may end up as a sleeper single and, along with “Ophelia,” would be the only two tracks I envision climbing up the charts and potentially finding the same success that “Ho Hey” found.
“Cleopatra” is most definitely out of left field, but is nowhere near as strong as expected after the monstrous popularity that their self-titled debut album garnered. Though definitely in line with the direction Schultz, Fraites and Pekarek wanted to take with their Americana folk rock sound. For many, this step was a letdown because of the current lack of a standout single.