As folk evolves into new sonic frontiers it’s important to keep yourself distinct. On Lord Huron’s third album they evolve yet again while trying to refine their voice into something eerie yet bluesy with the help of producing master Dave Fridmann. Though the record is occasionally held back through its most predictable tendencies, there’s still something wondrous to this album.
A psychedelic and whimsical luster opens “Lost In Time And Space” opening the album into the acoustics of the band’s titular void. Hearing the harmonies swarm around their light folk in the context of this sonic palette makes the track really step up and feel distinct from their previous work. “Never Ever” beats out with a rush of bass and a grimy anger as they call out to an endless wave of frustration. It’s the song’s eerie background tones and little Theremin-like tones however that raise every other melody into something pointed and fun.
After its fairy-tale intro, “Ancient Names (part I)” expands to tell a story just as magical and with the right mix of energy and unusual sounds to boot. It really blends its rock riffs into the sound with a powerful energy but does tend to feel a little stretched out. It’s when it hits its furious finale on “Ancient Names (part II)” that it really takes off and brings the hammer down for satisfying releases. Though it makes sense to try and split this track into separate pieces, it does feel rather lop-sided overall and leaves the fun of its second half a little less satisfying out of context.
“Wait By The River” survives in its tender and sweet delivery between the pianos and voices that come together with a glossy euphoria. It does however feel a tad done in the scheme of things and works best as part of the album rather than a standout track. The dark grooves of “Secret of Life” brings much more mystery than a lot of the album musters, and lets their sharp, blues-infused writing stand on much more solid ground. As smoky as they make the song, it does tend to feel derivative more than it does original, and remains somewhat forgettable.
This issue is abetted quite a lot on “Back From The Edge” as the band really swing their Western overtones into their ether with more reckless abandon. As they turn a love song into more of a surprising journey, the track becomes a heady wonder to listen to. The simple bounce to “The Balancer’s Eye” makes it work more than anything else. Though it truly feels like their most pop summation of the album’s overall sound, it has enough strong moments to stand taller than many moments of the album.
“When The Night Is Over” leans back to their blues with a more spacey glow and use it to give themselves more room to say something they really haven’t said before in their sound. Hearing the burning riffs fly every which way in the bridges really sets the song apart and shows a sense of certainty that feels rough but warm. There’s an oozing electricity to “Moonbeam” that shines out and makes its wholesome feelings avoid being too cheesy. In this kind of warmth the track creates a loving feeling that feels supernatural thanks to how the band plays with it.
The dark riffs of “Vide Noir” jump into a more exotic voicing than most of the album and finds Lord Huron pushing themselves into a more eerie and ghostly atmosphere. This unusually cold sound for them sets a weird base for the song that makes their haunting story all the more intriguing. They reach their densest sound on “Emerald Star” as they close out the record on galactic voyage tied to a love story.
Words by Owen Maxwell