Los Angeles – Three years ago, LA band Lord Huron released their debut record Lonesome Dreams—a vast, ambitious, poignant piece of music that echoed along the borders of Fleet Foxes with its harmonies. However, the band was by far worth more than sheer comparisons to larger scaled bands. As the record caught on, Lord Huron was making a significant impact in indie folk-rock and Best New Bands did a 2012 Featured Artist profile.
With a lot riding on the follow-up, it’s safe to say that Ben Schneider (vocals), Mark Barry (percussion), Miguel Briseño (bass/keys) and Tom Renaud (guitars) have returned in winning form. Strange Trails still touches upon a tranquil resonance with a “western” vibe implanted throughout the 14 new tracks spanning nearly one hour in duration. There is this sense of a railroad train chugging along in the old west and there is Lord Huron making music on one of the freight cars. That image comes to mind when listening to this sophomore release. Like an aged painting, worn in impression, embedded with framework of emphatic whimsical lyrics and tonal quality. The cavernous soundscape of Strange Trails is difficult to ignore as the band expands beyond their audacious debut with a richer, bolder, and vastly more ambitious effort.
“Yes, I know that love is like ghosts/well a few have seen it but everybody talks/spirits follow everywhere I go/well I sing all day and they haunt me in the night,” is hauntingly sung by Schneider off the opening track, “Love Like Ghosts.” The song slowly builds from acoustic guitars and shuffling rhythms. It is a beautifully illustrated song that hits you with an emotional punch. From the beginning, you know Lord Huron hasn’t lost their creative and poignant touch. “Until The Night Turns” ever so slightly turns up the volume and tempo, but obviously nothing too crazy here for a band deeply rooted in folk-rock sensibilities. Once again, Schneider is all about immense storytelling that evokes a strong Americana approach. The open road, the love of your life, the idea that contentment is just around the corner, all speak volumes on Strange Trails. The quartet’s first single, “Fool For Love,” features the sounds of an organ in a distant setting. It leaves you traces of a melancholic vibe, but a particular upbeat cadence strikes through the song as well. The combination of Schneider’s intellectually sounding vocals and the band’s driving, contemplative arrangement strikes a significant accord.
“Frozen Pines” drifts away ever so marginally in tone. Perhaps it’s because the trademark sound of Lord Huron feels slightly different here. It still conveys a similar resonance, but the undertones cut much deeper. Lyrically, it’s the band’s most potent piece of work. With all their instruments working in harmony, the character of the song gives off a dreamier impression. It’s a song that speaks about life and death and the idea of losing someone that still feels present. Lord Huron is fascinated by the art of storytelling, but it is their approach to the ideas of living and the afterlife that are expressed effectively well. “The Night We Met” begins with whispers before Schneider embarks on his final story to close out Strange Trails. It’s a slow burning exertion before breaking away into their uniquely characteristic flair.
In the end, the second album from Lord Huron stirs up many emotions through harrowing sounds, affecting lyrics, and this hovering layer that with uncertainty in life eventually comes a time for hopefulness. Despite the perennial caution that is saturated within the record, optimism is there to peak its head out letting the listener know it’s still there for the taking. Strange Trails is out on April 7 via IAMSOUND Records.
Check out Lord Huron on Facebook for information about their upcoming tour.
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