American folk rock band The Lumineers released their latest album Brightside on Jan. 14. Prior to the album release, they released three singles in 2021, teasing the album. The album has nine songs and spans 30 minutes. Written by Lumineer co-founders Jeremiah Fraites and lead singer, Wesley Schultz, the band considers it their “best album yet.”
My first introduction to The Lumineers was when I saw their music videos on my Youtube recommended page years ago. The thumbnail for “Sleep on the Floor” in particular looked perfect and I remember talking to an old friend who is a Lumineers fan, and decided I should give them a shot.
Listening to their staple hits over the course of 2020 and 2021 had me feeling upset at myself for putting off listening to them for so long. I found myself waiting for new music. Thankfully, a new album came out in 2022. I was excited to say the least.
The album starts strong with the title track “Brightside.” My favorite track from the album and the first of the three singles released in 2021. The song took one day to record, and as Spotify tales, it is about enduring, undying love and being there for your loved one in the toughest times. The lyrics and instrumentals meshed with Schultz’s soulful voice, conveying these feelings effectively.
Accompanying the song, the music video brings a collection of real life couples. Conventional and unconventional, straddling various age groups and identities, it is a celebration of love. Despite having no proper relationship experience yet, I find myself lost in imagination when I listen to the song, feeling strongly for a partner that does not exist. A testament to the song’s strength. Simple but effective, they even create a vibe that seems to match the imagery in the album art.
The next song on the album is “A.M. Radio,” the last single released before the album dropped. Bits and pieces of the song — minus a chorus — existed back when the band was working on their previous album, III. Ironic now because the most striking part of the song is the chorus. It sticks in your head long after it is finished. According to Wesley Schultz, the song is “an anthem about the supernatural pull of calling in one’s life.” Complementing this trope, “A.M. Radio” has the “biggest chorus [they’ve] ever recorded,” with Schultz’s voice doing a lot of the heavy lifting. And to drive home the message about chasing one’s calling, the music video takes place at Schultz and Fraites’ old high school and features clips from their early days of recording music and high school students following their passions.
The following song is “Where We Are,” which was directly inspired by a car accident that Wesley Schultz and his wife, Brandy, got into, per the Spotify storyline for the song. The lyrics are the true story, and the refrain sticks in your head. But it can also be seen as a metaphor for a relationship as a whole, again described in the Spotify storyline.
Next came “Birthday,” which, as the name implies, is a birthday song that one could dedicate to their partner on their special day. The change of pace after the birthday claps mid-song is quite nice in my opinion, but the lyrics describe the song quite well: “It’s alright.” I would rather use my own words for my future partner whenever such a day comes.
The next song on the album is “Big Shot,” the second single released before the album. The band intended on making the song fast paced at first, but settled for a slower paced, ballad-like approach, per the Spotify storyline for the song. I always listen to the song and think of my desire to be successful and my own man. It certainly feels like the song is challenging you in a way. Schultz also talks about how “we are all big shots in our own story.”
This is followed by “Never Really Mine,” definitely one of my favorite songs on the album so far. It appears to be a song about two people not quite fitting as a couple, not quite making it work. An emotionally-charged song about a familiar feeling: What’s not to like?
The next song is “Rollercoaster,” which is probably the most fitting word to describe the album. A morose sounding song that appears to deal with loss, I quite like it. Certainly a useful song for releasing emotions, should one need to, with interesting lyrics.
The last two songs on the album are “Remington” and “Reprise,” and they really are just one song when played back to back. “Remington” is only a minute and a half long, a staple “transition track,” and it fades into “Reprise” smoothly. “Reprise” serves as the final track, with lyrics calling back to the opening title track, adding a circularity to the album. “Reprise” has grown on me after a few listens, as it certainly felt rather average to begin with. Definitely makes you want to move around and bob your head a bit.
Overall, the album is quite nice, with room for it to grow on me, and other listeners. The album definitely helps channel the inner romantic. There are some songs I quite like, but some I wouldn’t listen to as often. Based on the previous Lumineers albums I have listened to, I can say Brightside does not achieve the cohesive storytelling that the older stuff accomplished. My first time watching the “Ballad of Cleopatra” film and listening to Cleopatra absolutely blew my mind. III is simply riveting with its narrative arc revolving around three characters and across multiple generations of an addiction-riddled family. Brightside does not reach such heights, however I encourage everyone to give it a listen. Regardless of where you stand, it is likely you will find something you’ll like. Such is the result of experimental and spontaneous albums like this one.
Anupras Mohapatra is a former opinion editor for The Daily Cardinal and currently serves on the Editorial Board. He is a senior double majoring in Computer Science and Journalism.