Two years after its last album, American folk band The Lumineers released their fourth studio album Brightside. Members Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites return with a short yet optimistic album, lasting only 30 minutes with only nine tracks.
The tracks contain songs both cheery and heartfelt with some brilliant songwriting throughout. The Lumineers have always been great songwriters and this album continues to prove that. Moreover, the album consists of their normal yet unique sound that they continue to master after years and years.
The opening track, “Brightside,” kicks off the album with some exhilaration. Starting off with a heavy drumbeat and an exciting electric guitar, they provide an optimistic opening to the album. Even the lyrics are quite optimistic, singing “I’ll be your brightside tonight.”
Heavily inspired by a Beatles track with the same name, “Birthday” is likely the most catchy song on the album. It’s cheery and upbeat with the repetition of the lyrics, “It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright / It’s your birthday dear.” Both catching and endearing, it is a great contender to be the best track to come off the album.
Lead singer Schultz wrote “Big Shot” as a reflection of himself. In the song, he looks back on how he used to be so full of himself. Mostly consisting of the piano, the song is sincerely humbling to anyone who listens as he sings, “And you wanna be a big shot / You wanna be the big man / You wanna hold a big gun / You gotta have a quick hand.” Definitely one of the more sombering songs on the album but still remarkable to listen to.
“Never Really Mine” pulls at the heartstrings, having a slight lyrical resemblance to Taylor Swift’s “August.” The lyrics, “Love was not designed for time / You were never really mine” as well as lyrics, “Hey don’t you fade, don’t you fade away,” are repeated consistently throughout the song. Even with the consistent repetition, it remains the most heartfelt song on the album as it reflects on a relationship that never was anything more.
One of the later tracks, “Rollercoaster,” has a melancholy sound but also contains some fairly strong lyrics. The opening lyrics, “Sittin’ on a rollercoaster, holdin’ on for dear life,” act as a metaphor for the pandemic. Another key lyric in the song was, “Everyone was only dyin’ to live.” It’s truly one of the most painful lyrics on the album, putting this track up there with “Never Really Mine,” as being one of the most emotional songs on the album.
“Where We Are” also resembles the pandemic, by comparing it to a car accident. The song acts as if the past few years have been like a car crash. They repeat the lyrics, “I don’t know where we are, but it will be OK,” to provide listeners with some well-needed optimism during a time of uncertainty.
The pandemic obviously inspired their new music but uses it in a way that is uplifting and inspirational to their fans. What they made very clear is that this album was curated and dedicated for their fans and not just made to top the charts.
The shortest song off the album, “Remington,” is perhaps the song that is the least promising. Since it’s so short, it lacks potential and doesn’t live up to the other songs on the album. Even though it is so short, it does still contain some heartfelt lyrics just like the other songs.
The last song on the album, “Reprise” reprises several of the songs for one final bliss moment. It connects the whole album to be one, an incredible feature not seen very often these days. With a heavy use of percussion and guitar, they are able to make a hopeful, upbeat ending to their album.
Most of the songs are extremely catchy and have the ability to be stuck in your head, especially with several lyrics being repeated heavily throughout the course of the album. With songs like “Birthday” and “Brightside” being really catchy and head-bobbing, they might have a chance to be the most played off the album.
One of the only flaws is that the band always makes their albums fairly short. While they manage to make it work for them, it would be interesting to see them make a longer, more conceptual album in their future.
Even though the band was more emotional with their lyrics on this album, it's undeniable that “Brightside '' is not their best album. The songs are still great contenders and it’s overall a short, yet enjoyable album. Substantially, the new album does show some potential growth for the band and hopefully they keep up that potential for their future music to come.