The Lumineers - Cleopatra (B-)

After The Lumineers conquered the world in 2012 with a string of hits, led by the addictive shout-stomp-clap “Ho Hey,” they did exactly what a band should do in their position; waited three years until all the hoopla had, for the most part, died down and THEN released their next single. With Cleopatra, they’ve simplified their sound from the first record; and while it doesn’t seem like a step back, it’s definitely not a step forward either. You could say that they were playing it safe, but I think that this is just their style; I’m not complaining. Their progression will be in their maturity as people, not in the ascension of their sound. You’ll feel the growth in their arrangements and their lyrics. That’s not to say they couldn’t expand, there’s always room to experiment and explore, but I don’t think it’s a necessity. If asked to compare their two records I would say I prefer this one, it could be it’s accessible 33 minute run time, or it honestly could be what I need at this moment in time. To me, Cleopatra plays more consistently, providing me with more joy in its subtleties ("My Eyes" into the closing instrumental "Patience" is a perfect example of this). Their first record, The Lumineers, while good, was also a louder, more general experience.

“Ophelia,” was the first of three singles supporting the album, all of which carry the name of a female. Whether the names are fancied by the band or are referencing anything deeper is up to you. While both Ophelia and Cleopatra can be found within Shakespeare’s pages (Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra), Angela carried no connection, conquering the possible trinity of literary women. Although the mentioning of Shakespeare does help me segue into the topic of poetry, and while I am not comparing the world’s greatest known poet to Wesley Schultz’s lyrics (their initials though…EH??), there is an excellent command of the language present. I don’t mean this in the words he uses but rather how he uses them, capitalizing on the man of few words approach, which is no small task. And while we’re on the subject of lyrics, I’d have to say “Sick In The Head” is my favorite in that regard, and oddly enough I’m not sure why, they just stuck out to me instantly. It’s feel is so personal, so intimate, as if someone is letting their guard down just for you. I’d say that’s the power of The Lumineers, for all their rollicking, they can also appeal to the heart with the best of ‘em. Ultimately, it's the complexities of music: the layers that you get to peel back with each listen, the songs that hit you so hard you can't listen again right away, the sounds that take you to another place, that power my love of the art, and this album coasts comfortably below that. Yes, we need albums like this, and no, I'm not asking for more from them, but I do need more from somewhere.