A few strums of an acoustic guitar. “HO!”
A few more strums. “HEY!”
And pretty soon you’re merrily singin’ and shoutin’ and stompin’ your boots whilst waving your straw hat and tambourine in the air with your folksy friends on the front porch. That’s what the aptly titled song, “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers feels like.
Although the band went through a dizzying series of names, genres, and even members in their early iterations, The Lumineers landed on the folksy, wistful, sepia-tinted Americana-grit that flows through “Ho Hey” and the rest of their 2012 self-released, self-titled album.
[Author’s note: I hadn’t seen the music video for “Ho Hey” before writing this, but as it turns out, it is both sepia-tinted and features boot-stomping and tambourine-waving.]
Critics couldn’t quite decide whether this style was kitschy or cool, but there’s no denying that it made them a commercial success.
It’s hard to believe the album came out nearly four years ago, but here we are. In the future. And the luminous Lumineers have announced their next album, Cleopatra and released a single, “Ophelia.” I guess they like prominent female characters from history/dramatic works.
I have to admit, I had the same dilemma as The Lumineers critics when I first heard this band. I appreciated the rawness of their sound, but at times it felt like too much. Just because you can make a whole album sound like it was made in a 1900s piano parlor doesn’t mean you should.
But here’s the truth: I’ve been listening to “Ophelia” pretty much nonstop. It continues the feel of their last album, with super simple instrumentation, vintage-y reverb, and a whimsical chorus (“O-Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love.”)
It works. It’s a simple song, but Wesley Schultz’s unedited, overflowing-with-emotion vocals pair sweetly with a harmoniously-plunking piano and add substance and personality (maybe even a touch of sorrow?) to the track.
It’s nice. I recommend it.
Cleopatra comes out in early April.
[Lead Photo via thelumineers.com]