Fifties rock filtered through Indy-Folk, with an ambient twist.
Lord Huron attracted plenty of “cinemagraphic” and “retro-sounding” comments on their first two albums, and took something of a detour into a harder-edged indy-rock on their third outing. ‘Long Lost‘ sees Ben Schneider steer his band, with their latest line-up, back to that original sound – and then some. The songs are full of a spacey echoing sound that has Schneider’s vocals floating ethereally, like mist through an open mountainscape. The lyrics reflect this – as on the title track – with Schneider singing of being left “where the light pours down through trees like rain” and equating release from commitments with the freedom of wide-open spaces “Send me to the mountains, Let me go free forever.” All the while backing vocals take on an ever huger choral sound, mixed with layers of strings which bring to mind fifties cowboy films, the lone rider heading off into the vast empty (well, apart from the Native inhabitants) spaces.
Lord Huron aren’t treading water though – the songs are given an extra layering of “retro-feel” by being linked together with short sections of hokey TV show presentation, giving a strange continuity to the songs. The dreamy ballad ‘I Lied‘, which features additional vocals by Allison Ponthier, for example is preceded by a short snippet of a heartbreak drama, and a slowed down introduction accurately stating that “when you hear these two sing together you just feel something deep down inside ya.” ‘I Lied‘ is a two-way confession of the many lies that broke up a could have been a true love. Laid out from both sides, with unfaithfulness and broken promises of endless love complimenting each other, it wallows beautifully in its own lush sound, like some hidden gem from a mid-20th century juke-box. It could be cloying or contrived if attempted by a less able band – but like other songs inspired by that era it works just fine.
To top all of these neatly stitched together songs of love lost and pined for, and freedom wished for and won, the closer ‘Time’s Blur‘ sees Lord Huron coming right on-trend. It’s an ambient Americana piece that lingers for over fourteen minutes, taking all those open space vibes and nostalgic cast backs to a notionally simpler American time – musically at least – and languidly extending them. Whether ambient Americana really is the future sound we’ve all been waiting for remains to be confirmed, but in the context of ‘Long Lost‘ it again fits perfectly – if the album is a movie soundtrack, then this is the end piece playing as final credits roll. It’s an album that confirms Lord Huron as a distinctive sound within Americana.