by Fluffy Cat // Alumni DJ
I have been waiting for a new album from Lord Huron for a while now. Ever since hearing “Fool for Love” and “The Night We Met” on the Palm (former Columbia radio station 92.1 WWNU) back in 2015, I have fallen in love with how this band has crafted a retro image for themselves, carefully intermingled with tales of dreamy folk-pop and lyrics that belie darker feelings beneath.
Here, they have continued their maturation by creating an album that feels like a marked improvement on Strange Trails from 2015 and Vide Noir from 2018. As I reviewed this album, I have been made aware of an entire world that swirls around this LA-based indie-folk band. Taking this into perspective, I would highly recommend this album as a fantastic dive into the catalog of one of the stranger bands on the popular surface of indie.
Ben Schneider’s light, retro voice is distinctive and adds to the feeling that something is going on behind the smoke and mirrors of the music. The aesthetic present on Long Lost adds a more cohesive narrative while maintaining the dreaminess of earlier efforts. Each song adds to an idea of a sort of variety show performed live, while the production of each track adds on a kind of echo to evoke an old-timey concert hall or live studio performance.
The album pulls upon this variety, tending towards slower, melancholic tracks, but often providing different takes on such a feel. Instrumental breaks also shape the concept, like in “Not Dead Yet,” the only song on the album that has a higher tempo beat. Vocal tracks and interludes serve to break up the heavier tracks of the album, and one Mr. Tubbs Tarbell is present in these moments to lead the album along in its concept.
“Time’s Blur” is a curious track that comes at the very end of the album. It isn’t something to recommend as one of the strong points of the album (if you’re not into the ‘lore’ of Lord Huron, a fan of atmospheric music, or someone who is a very keen and experienced music theorist, I would recommend skipping it) and its presence might confuse a casual listener as an oddity tacked on to the very end. Cursory research reveals to me that there are the chords of other songs on the album that sort of ‘blur’ into the 15-minute composition.
When I first listened to it, it did not make sense as a part of the album. However, if one is looking for the whole Lord Huron “experience” running through their work bit by bit and trying to understand the track, it is a welcome piece to add to their storied collective canon.
This cohesive album structure strung together with these takes and the rich voice of Mr. Tarbell flooding through muffled speakers between certain tracks ties the album together. Even though it’s not necessary, there’s an element of togetherness provided that would not exist without it. The album is better as a collective with these interludes. They provide welcome breaks that prevent parts of the album from merging in such a manner as to decrease th enjoyability of the work.
The album never seems to provide pure filler, and the interludes serve the album aesthetic quite nicely. As for tracks to recommend, I find myself drawn to a couple of the obvious ones. “Not Dead Yet,” the lead single, sets itself apart with its up-tempo pace and catchy hooks in the chorus. “You got holes on your clothes and booze on your breath / you look like hell and you smell like death” is arguably the most memorable line in the whole of the chorus from a first listen.
Another one I would recommend is “I Lied,” featuring Allison Ponthier. The duet between Schneider and Ponthier is characteristically haunting, allowing for the melodies to hit much harder. The sliding guitar also helps in stringing together a track that bounces between gothic surf-rock and a tearful ballad.
Other tracks I would highlight are “Drops in the Lake” and “What Do It Mean.” There isn’t much in the album that I wouldn’t say is at least solid. Overall, I think that the album is the best Lord Huron has provided so far. It offers a great deal for both new and previous listeners, from the lack of filler to the continual improvement of a distinctive sound.
I think that fans of artists such as The Decembrists, Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Andrew Bird or Of Monsters & Men would find a clear home within Lord Huron’s fanbase. It is not particularly groundbreaking from a sonic standpoint, but it shows the band’s strengths in putting together the pieces into a cohesive whole.
Listen to Lord Huron's new album Long Lost here!