Review: The Lumineers shine on “BRIGHTSIDE”

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“BRIGHTSIDE,” The Lumineers (Dualtone Records)

It will be hard for The Lumineers to top their immersive 2019 masterpiece “III” – a three-part concept album and accompanying short film exploring the cycle of addiction through generations. So, they didn´t try to.

Instead, the Denver band, consisting of founding members and songwriters Wesley Shultz and Jeremiah Fraites, went in a different direction entirely on their fourth LP, “BRIGHTSIDE.”

If their last album was lightning in a bottle, this album is a drop of concentrate – it is shorter (nine tracks), with quiet moments that are quieter, loud moments that are louder and a sense of urgency that propels each track into the next.

It’s a typical Lumineers album in many ways. Shultz and Fraites are masters of storytelling and “BRIGHTSIDE” is no exception. The catchy “WHERE WE ARE” is vivid in its imagery: “Crashed the car in Arizona on the interstate People pullin´ over cryin´ thinkin´ we were dead.”

What separates “BRIGHTSIDE” from albums past is a raw quality, like sitting in on a jam session. Strings are sparse, instead relying on piano, percussion and guitar to carry the record. Songs like the stripped down “A.M. RADIO” with its acoustic guitar lead in have a simplicity that allow the craftsmanship to shine.

The Lumineers may not have toured for “III” in 2020 as planned, but they chose to look on the bright side of a difficult situation, giving fans some playful tracks bristling with hopefulness as society peers forward to a life beyond the pandemic.

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