Lord Huron are led by Benji Schneider, who uprooted from Michigan with his buddies for the sun soaked bright lights of Los Angeles, way back in 2005. Five years later, they released the Mighty EP, which led us to include them in our 'Ones to Watch' for 2011 on the strength of its songs alone.
We've been waiting a long time for the debut album to follow it, and now that it's here, Lonesome Dreams is all that we hoped we'd get from the band back in 2010. The subtle progression in sound from the promise of earlier songs like 'Mighty' to something like 'Time to Run' is astounding. Whilst on the surface both songs follow the same structure, switching between ambient noise and full band afro-pop rhythms, the delivery is completely different. It seems that in the time it took to make Lonesome Dreams the band have developed a greater understanding of dynamics. You are now dealing with a band who can perfectly temper the flow of euphoria through your bones, not just within a song, but over the course of an entire album. The best example of this is the segue from 'The Ghost on the Shore' into 'She Lit a Fire' which is perfectly metered. When you compare it to the clunky transitions of old, where the individual component parts were great, but they felt somewhat thrown together. You can see how far they have progressed as a band in what is still a relatively short time. They are garnering comparisons to Fleet Foxes across the board, that's mostly because they have beautiful vocal harmonies, any other comparison to them is just lazy. While they do operate within the realms of Americana, Lord Huron draw on a much wider breadth of instruments and influences, their sound is a lot busier and complex than Fleet Foxes have ever been.
From its opening line "There is a river that goes on forever, I'm going to see where it leads" Lonesome Dreams appears to be preoccupied with travel. Every song is littered with words like sun or warmth, with mountains and rivers, they take place on vast seas and in wide open spaces. Lord Huron have become a product of their surroundings, enveloped in the dry desert heat in which they now inhabit. The albums sound is a reflection of these places. It is deep and warm, songs like 'Lullaby' and 'In the Wind' forgive many plays, moments of melodies are layered up like millions of years of evolution on exposed desert rocks. For all its talk of travel, at the core of Lonesome Dreams, in songs like 'She Lit a Fire' and 'I Will Be Back One Day' the key theme is that of lost love and loyalty. It's fair to say that as much as these songs are about traveling away from it all, they are also about returning home.
Schneider is a visual arts major and it certainly shows with this project. Over at their website every song on the record has an accompanying image. Which when coupled with my slow realisation that every aspect of the bands image appears to be tied down, tightly controlled and amazingly well spun. Led to a second guessing of their entire aesthetic. When something is so well presented, the presented ideal is rendered almost redundant in what then becomes an internal struggle for authenticity. What is actually real here? Why, when something appears so perfectly formed and shimmering does it suddenly become not enough?
The answer is obvious really, if it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck... Well? It's probably a duck isn't it.
The truth is that these are all questions born of a world weary cynicism, a cynicism that is gladly bereft from Lonesome Dreams. It is a old western, it is from a small town, it is honest and humble and it doesn't fit into the cities that we have built, or the way that we have chosen to inhabit them.
I hereby declare Lonesome Dreams to be perfect for summer road trips, so heed these words: When the UK gets its annual week of heat and you head out for your brief moment of freedom, open the windows, let the world in, turn the music up and allow yourself to feel everything.
At its heart this is a record about trying to find peace with lost love. In music, in nature, in travel and in the loyalty of your closest friends. If you find yourself lucky enough to be surrounded by all of these things, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with dwelling on it, let the healing begin.