It will be hard for The Lumineers to top their immersive 2019 masterpiece “III” — a three-part concept album and accompanying short film exploring the cycle of addiction through generations. So, they didn’t try to.
Instead, the Denver band, consisting of founding members and songwriters Wesley Shultz and Jeremiah Fraites, went in a different direction entirely on their fourth LP, “BRIGHTSIDE.”
If their last album was lightning in a bottle, this album is a drop of concentrate — it is shorter (nine tracks), with quiet moments that are quieter, loud moments that are louder and a sense of urgency that propels each track into the next.
It’s a typical Lumineers album in many ways. Shultz and Fraites are masters of storytelling and “BRIGHTSIDE” is no exception. The catchy “WHERE WE ARE” is vivid in its imagery: “Crashed the car in Arizona on the interstate/ People pullin’ over cryin’ thinkin’ we were dead.”
What separates “BRIGHTSIDE” from albums past is a raw quality, like sitting in on a jam session. Strings are sparse, instead relying on piano, percussion and guitar to carry the record. Songs like the stripped down “A.M. RADIO” with its acoustic guitar lead in have a simplicity that allow the craftsmanship to shine.
The Lumineers may not have toured for “III” in 2020 as planned, but they chose to look on the bright side of a difficult situation, giving fans some playful tracks bristling with hopefulness as society peers forward to a life beyond the pandemic.