Track 2 and 3 on The Lumineers’ second LP Cleopatra are #5 and #4 on the Top 10 Songs of 2016 countdown. How convenient! Which song is #5 and#4? No matter. All I want to make sure I get across in this singular post is that The Lumineers are the big winners of this year in music and “Ophelia” and “Cleopatra” are song that demonstrate this adulation.
The Lumineers hit initial fame in 2012 with infectious folk/rock hit “Ho Hey” and since then have been staples on the folk/rock circuit. The band, which formed out of grief – percussionist Jeremiah Fraites’ brother died of a drug overdose at 19 years old and inspired Fraites and lead vocalist and best friend to Fraites’ brother Wesley Schultz to make music – spent a great deal of the time between albums touring. The Lumineers, who also feature cellist and vocalist Neyla Pekarek, demonstrate a more mature musical style on Cleopatra, and this is on display in both songs below.
Let’s talk about “Ophelia” first. The song starts with a somber piano riff that is akin to a country saloon (but perhaps I’m just watching too much “Westworld) and is carried by the lead vocal and subsequent harmonies. The strength of the song may lie in its brevity, pertinent considering the title character is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and it was Shakespeare who advised that brevity is the soul of wit. The song bounces with the piano and finds its way snugly into your head, which “Cleopatra” does as well but in a different manner. “Cleopatra” is quicker, a swingy guitar instead of melancholic piano leading the rhythm. The consistent beat is toe-tapping and similarly infectious.
Both songs feature The Lumineers’ distinct sound – a clear folk/rock style with their unique brand of ditty-like catchiness and concise potency. The band has been quite omnipresent this year, and thus 2016 can be considered their year (in their genre of course). That said, they do not have the number one song, which we are nearing. #3 comes tomorrow.