A more optimistic look from beloved rock band
After the epic that was their 2019 album III, The Lumineers have decided to strip back and go back to the basics with Brightside. The Lumineers have maintained their signature sound while creating a new, cheerier outlook on the world around them. In hopes of releasing a happier album during the pandemic era, this short, yet sweetly sentimental album hits all the right notes. In its cohesion, this is a great album for fans of the band and newcomers alike. In the intimacy of a jam session, this production truly highlights a more positive outlook on the band unexplored in their previous works.
The titular track acts as a shining anthem for the band’s new era. With sunkissed lyrics and youthful vibrancy, the lyrics are as honest and tangible as ever. It is refreshing to see such an utter embrace of positivity. While the production that fans are familiar with is not as loud nor as textured as it usually is, it still has intricacies that adhere to the vision of the album. The signature vocal performances are still there, so it does not seem as if a complete 180 from their previous works. Instead, it sounds more like a mature extension of it.
However, this is not even close to the best songs on the album. “A.M. RADIO” has a deceptively simple song structure, with its bridges preceding the chorus. Lyrics such as “you were always sayin’ we would make it to the catacombs/ in the end, it came when you wrote my name on the bathroom stall” have a wonderful cadence to them. The imagery really makes the song come alive, with a youthful energy that melds well with the naturalistic production. The inclusion of the clicks as the keys of the piano is being played was a nice touch to make the song come alive.
The track “BIRTHDAY” is weaker than its earlier counterparts, with its lyrics being more simplistic than the other tracks. However, it has a certain necessity in the album, showing that there needs to be hope in times of darkness. In a way, it is a manifesto for The Lumineers’ album itself. Perhaps the vitality of the track is a perfect cohesion for the rest of the album.
Brightside regains its footing with songs like “ROLLERCOASTER,” which has some of the most interesting instrumentals for the album. The chords are dissonant yet comforting. The contradictions define the song, with an interesting contrast working throughout it. This sounds most akin to earlier works, even if the lyrics are more honest. It is a dense track that shows just how the band is turning to music to heal.
The album, therefore, is a cohesive and positive take on the folk-rock genre. With the grim turn that many rock bands have turned to as a result of the pandemic, it is admirable that The Lumineers have branched out of their comfort zone to create something that reflects a look to a brighter future. While there might be some weaker songs, the production and vocal performances of Brightside make the album worthy of note at the beginning of the third year of this era in which we live.