The Lumineers’ LP “BRIGHTSIDE” contains compact messages

Although disconnected, each song celebrates life through difficulty in a different way.

Emily Coffey, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The Lumineers dropped their 30-minute LP “BRIGHTSIDE” on Jan. 14, a microcosm of the feelings that many experienced during the pandemic. Musically, it blends seamlessly with the rest of the group’s discography. Lyrically, it deviates from their tradition of telling a cohesive story with their music. Instead, it is loyal to the reality of loss, celebration and ensuing confusion that result from the pandemic. 

INSPIRATION

In an interview with USA Today, lead singer Wesley Shultz disclosed that the inspiration for this album came from Billy Joel for his short but powerful songwriting—a recurring theme throughout the album. “REMINGTON” perfectly displays this, as the song ends at one minute and fifty-two seconds. 

WHERE WE ARE” is a potent ballad that develops into a heady, driving rock-pop song by the end. Inspired by Shultz’s car accident which occurred a few years prior, the song uses this traumatic event as a metaphor for the kind of emotions that come with a global pandemic. 

It seems this is the dominant feeling for the entire piece. At times, Shultz is yelling, while at others, he is quietly contemplative. The lyrics describe events in their signature piercing realism. This style is not necessarily problematic, but it also fails to show artistic progression for the group. 

LYRICISM AND SOUND

Title track “BRIGHTSIDE” is classic, but loses interest halfway through the song. It also lacks Jeremiah Fraites’ piano and their signature driving beat. The song, however, is the most listened to on their new album, and proves a mostly successful run as a single. 

As a whole, compared to “III” and “Cleopatra,” the LP misses the imaginative storytelling that made their last releases so captivating, gathering more depth with every listen. It drives in the places that it should be contemplative, and is slow in a way that threatens boredom. 

However, “BIG SHOT” redeems the collection. The hook is catchy, but naturally flows into the surrounding verses. The lyrics stand out against the placid piano for the first half, but then the song drops into a different melodic landscape that belongs in an indie coming-of-age sunset montage. 

WRAPPING IT UP 

REPRISE” is the last track on the LP. It reinterprets the opening track, leaving listeners with a vague understanding of what the piece is trying to communicate when Shultz sings, “I’m headed for the lights / I’m headed for the brightside, baby tonight.” In other words, the writer is not choosing to surrender to the darkness that a global disaster could bring. Instead, he is choosing to wait for hope.

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