Lord Huron are best known for “The Night We Met,” a soft-spoken song that puts its finger keenly on deep human longing and romance gone sour. The song’s power comes both from its sheer ubiquity and its pared-down and harmonic composition.
That track is at the heart of Lord Huron’s sound and subject matter. Their new album, “Long Lost,” falls right into line with it while expanding on the compositional complexity of Lord Huron’s sound.
“Long Lost” returns sonically from the wayward journey of “Vide Noir,” which brought a more electronic, production-heavy take on the nostalgia- and nature-tinged music. The songs feel much less urban, the guitar parts twangier and folksier.
For fans of Lord Huron’s earlier albums (the iconic “Lonesome Dreams” and “Strange Trails,”) “Long Lost” will feel like home. The album makes me want to hop in my beater Subaru and head for the nearest trailhead with friends or lovers. Or, better yet, go on a long road trip. This is a perfect musical accompaniment for the road.
Lyrically, though, the album is more than just good driving music. Many of the songs harken back to that masterpiece, “The Night We Met.” As the title suggests, lostness – temporal, spatial – is a theme of the album. Just a glance down the track list will tell you that: “Love Me Like You Used To,” “Where Did the Time Go” and “Time Blur,” to name a few.
And while Lord Huron don’t dial the reverb and sadness to an 11, like they once did, the album is full of soft-spoken and beautiful songs. “What Do It Mean,” for example, absolutely glimmers in the way it conveys one of the most basic human questions: What does it all mean?
But, by and large, the softness comes from nostalgia and an emphasis on how the past works its way into our present. On the brief “Where Did the Time Go,” lead vocalist Ben Schneider sings “Oh, where did the time go?”
Momentarily stuck in the past, the song flips immediately to wishes for the future: “May you laugh and sing your life full / May you learn the reasons why / May you live until you die.” But, for every slow-moving, moody piece, there is one for the open road.
The first full track, “Mine Forever,” is a perfect example. The percussion section rolls right into and through each verse. It feels like a rolling highway in the way that the composition stutters lightly back and forth.
That bass is an aspect of the album worth mentioning since it has a major role in dictating each track. When it’s at its twangiest, the songs are upbeat and rolling. When – in “Meet Me in the City”– the bass part feels weighed and run down, the song feels dark and urban.
The album’s most questionable decision is the final track, “Time’s Blur,” a 14-minute instrumental that sounds a lot like Vangelis’ “Blade Runner” soundtrack. The end of the track before, “What Do It Mean,” was perfectly convincing, and while “Time’s Blur” is a good atmospheric composition, it seems to lack a place on the album.
That aside, “Long Lost” is Lord Huron at their best. They have always had a distinct breed of folk rock that calls the listener back into themselves, and here the band has added new instrumentation and trim, strong songwriting to supplement it.
For longtime Lord Huron fans, this album will be a welcome expansion to their discography. For others, it’s a perfect entry point into one of today’s most influential and successful indie folk groups.
Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at email@example.com.