Track Review: “Ophelia” by The Lumineers

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Summer twenty-thirteen felt like three months straight of listening to folk music. Two Mumford & Sons shows, a Lumineers set, a Jake Bugg performance, and even more folk woven throughout can make you tired of a genre that you’ve just gotten yourself into. At the end of it all, I’ll admit that I was a little tired of banjos and acoustic guitars and beards and suspenders. And I stopped listening to folk music for a long time, just because I was so unimpressed with it. And then The Lumineers went and released “Ophelia,” and whether my thoughts have changed or they’re an exception to the rule, I’m now listening to them non-stop, this track in particular. It’s wondrous.

As soon as I heard The Lumineers’ newest song, all of my memories of that summer past came flooding back into my soul. From seeing The Vaccines and being the only one in the amphitheatre singing along at the top of my lungs to going to my first ever music festival (Osheaga, of all things), it was a memorable season. The Lumineers brought all of those moments back with “Ophelia”, including the incredible show they put on in Montreal that year – Wesley and Stelth ventured into the crowd to play us a couple songs, and I remember a giant smile that felt permanently plastered onto my face and bodies squished all around me in an attempt to get closer to the duo. In hindsight, that’s one of the best memories I have of a music festival. I feel consumed by happiness just thinking about it.

The band’s latest single has been a long time coming. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was announced on Dine Alone Records’ Facebook page and I clicked through to listen to the track without thinking anything of it and all of a sudden February felt like summer and my dorm room felt like the airy openness of a music festival and the song playing from Spotify felt like it could turn into a thousand-person sing-along at any point. I fell in love with The Lumineers all over again and I listened to “Ophelia” on repeat for an hour and I felt rejuvenated and full of joy in a way that only an incredible new song can make you feel.

Something I really like about The Lumineers is their ability to write and sing romantic songs but to also write and sing about small, important details of life and bigger hardships and personal feelings that have nothing to do with love. Their songs tell stories about anything and everything. They completely transport you to another time and place, to streets full of parade floats and to cold beaches and to 1920s bars filled with flappers and men in outrageous suits. “Ophelia” is no different. There’s a narrative there, a storyline that pulls you deep into its core and fills you with warmth and love. It’s open for interpretation and unless you’ve read the interviews that explain that the song is about dealing with fame, you would probably never guess that.

“Ophelia” is a perfect, triumphant return. It’s the kind of song that deserves the “I waited so long for this” cliché and the constant radio play that often comes along with brand new tracks by bands who fell off the radar for a little while. Its thumping percussion and dainty, sparkly piano are exactly what you’d expect from a song by The Lumineers, but it doesn’t feel old or done one too many times. The band sounds refreshed and on top of their game and ready for the renewed popularity that’s sure to come their way. It’s an incredibly strong comeback, one that has undoubtedly left everyone wanting more. I can barely wait to hear what’s to come.

The Lumineers’ sophomore album ‘Cleopatra’ is out April 8th and they’ll embark on a world tour that month, though there is no Toronto date as of yet.

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