“But I was late for this, late for that, 
Late for the love of my life.
And when I die alone, when I die alone, 

When I die I’ll be on time.”
~Cleopatra
The Lumineers, Cleopatra

Looking forward to the new album from The Lumineers album despite my very select knowledge of their early music. Mostly excited about this new single, “Cleopatra,” a delightfully dark character-driven retrospective. I’m enjoying how this band uses rhythm to move a song along, with a lot of drums and piano and tambourine, they’re not guitar-reliant and that’s a really powerful thing, as their breakthrough single “Ho Hey” similarly suggests.

A band like The Lumineers is at an interesting point in their career – most likely, any single they release will not have the immense popularity that that first hit did. “Ho Hey” was everywhere – on radio, TV shows, just shepherding hipster folk to the masses through a charming, catchy love song. How can a band top that? Maybe that’s why they took their time in coming out with a sophomore effort four years after their Grammy-nominated self-titled debut, maybe because the pressure to be great was weighty and they thought it better to simmer for awhile.

In music, as other efforts, it’s a lot easier to make a splash as something new and great rather than sustain that popularity. Easy to get to the top, harder to stay there, as the saying goes. It’s freshness and newness an artist brings to the table that makes them so popular in the first place – in the case of The Lumineers, I call it the right sound at the right time. As a creator, how do you live up to that expectation of greatness after you have already achieved it? If you make the same sound, how can it popularized a second time? Are you pressured to recreate out of appeasement, or do you dive into new territory and hope the fanbase comes along for the ride?  From the sound of “Cleopatra” and “Ophelia,” they’ve focused on their melodic and auxiliary strengths,  those qualities that earned them the nomination nod for Best New Artist. As a relatively new fan, I hope to find these same sincere, sad themes, these roosty-bluesy riffs and spine-tingling harmonies.

“I, I got a little paycheck, you got big plans and you gotta move

And I don’t feel nothing at all
And you can’t feel nothing small

‘Honey I love you,’ that’s all she wrote.

Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl like a drug
Oh, Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love

Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl since the flood
Oh, Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love

Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl like a drug
Oh, Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love.”

~Ophelia, 
The Lumineers, Cleopatra