Lord Huron – Long Lost
The indie-folk scene is a little overcrowded, and despite LA-based Lord Huron’s three commendable studio albums, it was the spooky sadness of The Night We Met that distinguished them as solid contenders. Their latest album, Long Lost marks a playful venture into the familiar, with their studio, Whispering Pines, becoming a creative hub of vibrant, often wacky narratives through which they have been live-streaming material. Playing into the mystery, a fictional figure, Mr Tubbs Tarbell, was invented to leave clues regarding their next moves. It’s a move that was initially peculiar and rather theatrical, but makes sense with the subsequent release of their concept album.
Following a cinematic intro, the band bind the track list with interludes sporting vintage-tinged icons and characters plucked from old-school AM radio bliss. Blink and you’ll miss them, but they inject the album framework with personality and an open mic night interactivity. The songwriting itself remains pure and pensive, careful without being overly cautious – rather, composed and crafted – as their imagination breathes colour into emerging reflections of fading memories. They dabble with traditional themes, but with soothing, faraway vocals, Ben Schneider weaves a lyricism that slices through thick harmonic acoustic with eloquent intention.
This is particularly evident in the title song, its classy, sepia-toned sound infused with the essence of nature: “Leave me where the moonbeams carve through the leaves like blades”. Similar poetic substance builds 20 Long Years into a hypnotic reflection on a life chasing ghosts, and in shorter form in Love Me Like You Used To, which is undeniably country-led with easeful lyrics slotting perfectly between rhythmic strings. Structurally and sonically, I Lied, featuring Allison Ponthier, is perhaps the best example of Lord Hurons’s minimalistic approach, carried by haunting vocals and a floating sense of melancholy. It’s an affecting twist on a love song, whereby the pair are celebrating being wrong about a lifelong promise: “I bore a flame that burned a thousand suns for you, but it died”. Its message is, confusingly, both relieving and stirring. Not Dead Yet is Elvis through and through; written when burnt out on tour, it’s got a rolling wheels feel, unforcedly groovy and self-assured. Off-beat from the rest of the album, it’s warmly welcomed.
Without Schneider’s vocals, the allure of Lord Huron’s characterisation and narratorly style would be lacking. Lung power is used sparingly and to the advantage of songs’ progression into climax, and elsewhere he remains suspended in a sort of timeless lull, a nostalgic antidote. Long Lost ripples with time-warped perspectives, maintaining roots in a woozy sentimentality. Lord Huron are a visionary band, irretrievably nomadic and masters of melancholy. If the variety show characterisations don’t appeal, the songs and the dense moods they unfailingly inspire hold up. Plus, with a “thank you folks” applause insert and 14-minute ambient finale, they can’t be criticised for not providing a show.
Long Lost is released on 21st May 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Lord Huron’s website here.
Watch the video for the single I Lied here: