In 2012, we were bombarded with foot stomping, spirit rising, wind in your hair folk music. It was the height of Mumford & Sons’ reign and suddenly every time we turned around we heard the sounds of acoustic guitars and banjos. I have never been happier. It was also at this time that a sweet, simple song called “Ho Hey” snuck into the mainstream.
The Lumineers debut album since became one of the most important in the history of the Indie Folk revolution. As the folk scene began to fade back into the main framework of the music industry, so too did The Lumineers begin to fade away.
Four years later, the band releases Cleopatra, which sticks to the simplicity of the first album as far as instrumentation goes, but the lyrics are deeper, the music is more complex and it is more moving than their debut.
Where the debut began with the simple, fun, carefree Flowers in your Hair, Cleopatra opens with the urgent, desperate but still somehow sweet Sleep on the Floor. Where their debut ended with the sobbing, yearning “Morning Song”, this album ends with a simple tune called “Patience”.
The group has clearly matured wonderfully. This new album tones down the humble foot stomp and ups the top-of-a-mountain euphoric folk, which was always their true power. Their big hit may have been “Ho Hey”, but they avoided becoming a one hit wonder because of “Morning Song”, “Slow It Down”, and “Charlie Boy”. Cleopatra keeps that balance of light and dark that was so wonderful in the debut. they have also made the line between the two a little harder to read, which is a large reason for the increase in their complexity and artistry.
There are some beautiful stories in these new pieces. There’s the first track, “Sleep On The Floor”, which is the story of forbidden lovers struggling to get by when they’ve been forsaken, cut off, and are living out of suitcases and sleeping on hardwood floors, surviving on their love for each other.
Cleopatra is possibly the best track on the album. It is told through the eyes of woman, but sung by a man (HOORAY NON-BINARY REPRESENTATION!!!!) and how she was too late to meet the love of her life, how she’s wasted her life being late for everything, her struggles of being a woman in a suffocating society, and her longing to be reunited with the person she was too late to love.
Other notable tracks:
Angela – a sweet ode to a girl making her escape from a small town that had nothing to offer her but pain and heartache
In The Light -A smooth, swooning song about forgiving and forgeting.
Gale Song – this song should sound familiar to those who remember the Hunger Games Soundtracks, this appeared on Catching Fire and was remastered to fit the mood of the album.
Patience – A simple, sweet piano instrumental to wrap up the album.
Looking into the Deluxe edition is highly recommended. Both are available on Spotify.