Review Summary: I love this world and I don't want to leave it.
Exploring is an experience not easily replicated. It is unchartered territory you’re venturing into as far as you’re concerned. Associated with that is equal parts thrill, anxiety, apprehension, and maybe a little fear. Exploring a new genre is no different. Who knows what you’re going to encounter, you’ve never listened to anything quite like it before. Is the experience going to be one you’d like to further, or are you going to cut it and run when you hear something that doesn’t click right the first time? Such is my relationship with folk. I was never really sure what to think of the genre, having never been exposed to it. When I was, I remembered why I didn’t make a habit of it. Something about the heartland guitar playing and world percussion is a far cry from the distortion and double bass kick I’ve been familiar with my whole life. But a little exploration and interest is all it takes to open yourself to a different genre, and the payoff is generally well worth your time. In the case of Lord Huron, any level of intrigue should be enough to start your journey in his realm of indie-folk. The sounds and mood created with “Lonesome Dreams” can place you anywhere in the world, as if you are not only exploring the music, you’re exploring the world with him. And boy, is the payoff worth it.
Lord Huron isn’t your typical listen, not by a long shot. There is so little he can be compared with. The dense, ambient atmosphere that is created within the opening seconds of “Ends of the Earth” does not let up. On the superb opener, ears are practically graced by a soothing voice that leads the band onward. “Oh there’s a river that winds on forever”, with these words the adventure of an album that is “Lonesome Dreams” begins. Lord Huron makes use of both electric and acoustic guitar to create the backbone of his folk sound. Accompanied with this is a variety of electronic/synth effects to give him a signature sound sound so dense and gripping. Each song becomes so distinct and powerful that an album could be made of each one. Lord Huron create a feeling of exploration with this atmosphere, as if one is in the mountains west of the American plains. Complemented by the heartfelt vocals and lyrics, it’s hard to bring yourself back to your environment after you’re done listening. Another strong focus on “Lonesome Dreams” is the stellar use of percussion. The intro to “The Man Who Lives Forever” features an interesting variety of tambourine and conga that continues when the distinctive guitar work and dense layering comes to the forefront. The song is an outstanding representation of the album, which more beautiful vocal work and harmonized “oooohs” in the background. The lyrics again are a highlight: “I said life is a tale, it begins and it ends, and forever is a word that we can’t understand.” What is so interesting about Lord Huron is the connection a listener feels with them. They might as well be playing this album directly to you, meaning every word and every note. It’s hard to recall an album that speaks as close to the heart as “Lonesome Dreams” does.
The themes of dreaming and life are recurring throughout “Lonesome Dreams” and they cause the music to have such a deep meaning. Look no further than the title track for this moody feeling, while trying not to get lost in the encompassing sounds from the percussion and guitars. As the Lord Huron ponders the world and the life it allows for, so the listener will also. With the echoed vocals in “I Will Be Back One Day” and its start/stop acoustic guitar strumming, the song and album are to be taken in intimately. A little exploring into the album is sure to deliver a powerful mood that is without parallel in any other album. From the beautiful vocal work and lyrics, the innovative and unique percussion, and the dense, atmospheric guitar work, “Lonesome Dreams” commands your attention. So delve into it, hopefully you’ll be able to make your way out of it by the time “The Stranger” fades out. If not, you’re hardly in a bad place.