The Wit and Wisdom of the Lumineers – Throwback Thursday

One of my favorite blog series I’ve done is my “Listening to Music Without Understanding It” series over on Sourcerer. I thought I would reblog it here for Throwback Thursday over the coming weeks. Enjoy!

One of the most interesting bands I have found in recent years is the Lumineers. They are hard to describe in a few words, hard to nail down to a genre or style. iTunes describes them as “front porch Americana.” Not a bad start.

I want to consider a few of the great traits of this band, to share with you what I like about this band, and to share why I think you they deserve a listen – if you haven’t already! Their eponymous first studio album came out in 2012, so I’m at least hoping there’s more to come from them soon.

In the meantime, this is a band from Denver, and I’m from Denver, and it would be neat to see them play there sometime! But for now, my sense of the Lumineers.

A Sense of History

One of the things that stands out about the Lumineers is their sense of history. They sing songs set solidly in the past, and seem to capture some of the feeling from the time. They tap back into the Roaring Twenties, World War II, and Vietnam.

This is the Americana feeling that people get from the band: tapping into the nation’s past, and reveling a bit in the past. It doesn’t necessarily glorify these moments, either, but instead just considers them. The uncertain life of the Flapper Girl; the person no one believes when he cries “Submarines!” (instead of wolf); and the Charlie Boy who volunteered to fight in Vietnam.

The band is thoughtful with history, giving quite a bit of weight to their songs.

A Sense of Community

This is less concrete than the history references, but the Lumineers also celebrate community. This is part of the front-porch folk feeling people get from the band – the feeling that these are normal folks, are like us.

I think the best song to represent this is their song the “Big Parade,” that explains a bit of the life of the various people walking in the parade, and gives an image of them passing by: the candidate, the welterweight, the beauty queens, the priest, the marching bands. Their songs are full of people, and images, and give a sense of life.

Wisdom in the Lyrics

When they’re not getting specific about people’s lives, giving images, or American history, the Lumineers are giving advice, making observations on the world and how it works. My kind of lyrics. Here are a few of my favorites:

And when their lyrics aren’t enough, their songs break down to sounds. They are willing to use their voices as part of the music, to enhance the experience. Part of the success of their hit single “Ho Hey,” I would say.

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