For The Lumineers, acoustic instruments, strained vocals and catchy choruses are three aspects that are a must. Their self-titled album helped the band catapult to fame, grabbing the attention of every radio station and music festival and in turn, that got them a strong and supportive fan base.
After such a strong start, fans had even higher expectations for their second album. Finally, after a long wait, “Cleopatra” was finally released. There is no doubt that The Lumineers created strong lyrical substance to show their talent, but unfortunately, the record is so dull that it fails to leave any impact on the listener.
If one could describe the national anthem for road trips, “Angela” would be a perfect fit. The song describes a loved one, probably named Angela, leaving town “with the windows down, and the wilderness inside.” The beauty and flow of the lyrics together makes a perfect road trip track. Along with the light drumming background and the clapping to emphasize the chorus, this song just makes you want to jump in the car and drive away.
Separation anxiety is a reoccurring theme throughout “Cleopatra.” “In the light,” a lullaby-like song, features an acoustic background with a piano melody that emphasizes lead singer Wesley Schultz’s mellow vocals. Ironically, The Lumineers speed up the tempo throughout the track, making it more upbeat than probably intended. This song masks the sadness that the singer faces when a lover drifts away — though “the idea’s gone, I just can’t let go.”
This theme continues with the title track of the album “Cleopatra,” where Schultz addresses, from a female’s perspective, how a woman is madly in love with another person though she is with someone else, just like the real life Cleopatra and Marc Antony. It’s not an ideal love story for a song, but Schultz masks this with upbeat chorus and a more rock background with drumming and electric guitars. Though, the song captures beauty and innocence, it’s a track that doesn’t leave an impression on the listener. I had to listen to the song several times to try to remember what the song was about.
The most memorable track off the album is “Ophelia.” Schultz breaks down the word Ophelia, creating a beautiful catchiness to the syllables of the name. Along with the piano and tambourine in the background, all aspects of this track flow quite well together, which has made it one of the most successful tracks off of the album.
When a debut album is as successful as “The Lumineers” was, it creates higher expectations for the artist to create something even better for the sophomore album. It is evident that The Lumineers tried to make “Cleopatra” just as successful by using recycled content from their first album to replicate the effects, from the similar tempo of “Ho Hey” in “Cleopatra” to “Stubborn Love” in “Ophelia” to all acoustics background that they have only done.
Unfortunately, it does not work. The sophomore album uses the same tempo and rhythms on their first album, except this time it plays as dull, because the songs become forgettable. Hopefully, The Lumineers will try something new, so they aren’t recycled like their music.