With their third full-length LP, The Distance Is So Big, Buffalo’s Lemuria have finally won me over completely.
Given the amount of attention we’ve given the band here at Rock Star Journalist, and the fact that my Lemuria t-shirt is one of the few band shirts I care enough to wear to my office day job, that might come a surprise.
Fact of the matter is — and this isn’t an opinion from which I’ve shied away in the past — I’ve always considered the trio to be a bit of a singles band. “Ozzy,” “Chautauqua County,” and “Varoom Allure” are just three of their songs which have seen a 7-inch release, and they’ve always managed to get far more plays than the albums themselves. The songs are tight and catchy, and bear returning to repeatedly.
Unfortunately, I’ve yet to hear a Lemuria full-length that managed to hold my attention for the duration. Their first LP, Get Better, was my introduction to the band, and while I found it pleasant enough to spin once or twice, it wasn’t until their split with Off With Their Heads, where they covered the Pixies’ “Alec Eiffel,” that I really bothered to dig further into their catalog.
Pebble was pleasant enough, but the intervening singles — a split with Cheap Girls and the aforementioned “Varoom Allure” — brought me more entertainment than the LP itself. It always seemed that Lemuria would have half an album’s worth of good songs, then fill it with mostly-disposable dross. That always made the singles so much of a conundrum. How does a band manage to put out one or two fantastic songs twice a year, then absolutely fall flat when it comes time to go the distance?
On The Distance Is So Big, however, Lemuria goes from sprinters to marathon runners. The album’s first proper song, “Brilliant Dancer,” was also the first song previewed from the LP, and it sets the tone for the album with the repeated chorus of “This is the best place on Earth.” Really, this album — coming at the start of summer as it does — bubbles over with effervescent energy and sunny tones, without spilling into bubbly, bouncy pop.
The midpoint to the album, “Oahu, Hawaii,” from where the album takes its title, is an build-and-release song, with big drum rolls and just a hint of surf guitar rhythm, mellowed and offset with ever-growing cello backing. It manages to be a rocker, contemplative, and sets the scene for the end of a cookout, where everyone’s full and slightly drunk, hiding in the shade and trading stories.
At no point does Lemuria lapse during The Distance Is So Big. Sheena Ozzella‘s voice soars, wonderfully counterpointed by Alex Kern‘s more declamatory style. The guitar work is jangly but tight, and that’s what really appeals most about these three: while being relaxed, calm, and mellow, Lemuria brings energy and focus to their music, bringing you back again and again.
You can pre-order the LP from Bridge 9 before it comes out on June 18. The splatter vinyl and package deals sold out in a matter of days, but there are still copies on Coke bottle clear (limited to 700 copies) and black (limited to 1000 copies). There’s also the “Brilliant Dancer” single on clear-with-black-smoke vinyl (limited to 700), with an exlcusive b-side, “Helloing,” available now.
Very colorful stuff, and the softer vocals blend well with the full on guitars. Power pop at it’s finest.