After releasing not one but two hits, what band wouldn’t jump to release a new album? In 2012, The Lumineers burst into popularity but then neglected to release more than one successful self-titled album. Until now. Early this year, the Lumineers announced that they will be releasing a second album, Cleopatra, as well as a new single, “Ophelia.”
The Lumineers are the band behind the ubiquitous indie-folk anthem, “Ho-Hey,” a shout-and-stomp song following in the footsteps of bands like Mumford and Sons. Despite being known for such an upbeat song, The Lumineers origin story has its own share of tragedy and frustration.
The original founders, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, decided to start the group in 2002. Schultz and Fraites knew each other through Fraites’ brother, Joshua. Unfortunately, Joshua died of a drug overdose, leading his brother and best friend to come together to play music as a way of coping with his death. The band that would become The Lumineers (then unable to decide on a name) first battled obscurity in New York City bars before moving to Denver, where they found more success.
In 2008, the cellist Neyla Pakerek became their permanent third member. They first attracted national attention with their single, “Ho-Hey,” after the song was used on the TV-Drama “Hart of Dixie” and went viral in 2012. After that, the band produced their first and, up to this point, only album, The Lumineers. Also featuring the popular song, “Stubborn Love,” this album broke the top 40 and got The Lumineers nominated for two Grammys.
Earlier this year, they announced their new album, Cleopatra, coming out on April 8th. The band spent six months making the album in a rented cabin in Denver. According to the lead singer, this album delves into the transitory nature of the life of a professional musician, a topic likely to bring a little more angst. The album cover also hints at songs a little darker than previous band fare, showing a heavy-lidded woman, presumably Cleopatra, in black and white.
Their single, “Ophelia” (the name perhaps following the theme of interesting female personalities) certainly lives up to that projection. Fans looking for another “Ho-Hey,” will find something different in “Ophelia.” The song has a darker, heavier tone.
According to the lead singer, “Ophelia” is about the experience of falling in love with sudden fame, and the effects it has on his relationships—probably something he has had a lot of experience with after the explosive success of “Ho-Hey.”
The simple music video, featuring the lead singer running off of a dreary performance stage and skipping through rain puddles, also seems to fit that theme. While this is a common theme for musicians to sing about, “Ophelia” strikes just the right balance between catchy and reflective, making it feel fresh.
That being said, the lyrics are open enough for any listener to find their own interpretation. It isn’t that “Ophelia” is all doom and gloom. It features a steady and simple percussion, memorable lyrics, and a light and jaunty piano, making it suitable for anything from study music, singing along, or a quieter sort of road trip.
While the marching percussion from the previous album remains to please current fans, the change in tone makes “Ophelia” and hopefully the rest of Cleopatra a worthwhile listen for anyone who might not have been brought in by their previous hits.