Lately the musical landscape has been peddling bands who’ve grown up on the alternative rock of the 90s. Some of those sounds are great, while others sound outdated, but I think Lemuria have landed in a spot that nods to the past while looking forward. Their new record, The Distance Is So Big, recalls great moments from Dear You-era Jawbreaker, yet includes a heavy dosage of male/female vocal interplay, catching your ear’s attention with every spin.
The first real song on the album beings with an ambling guitar, and really takes off when Sheena enters the scene. Her entrance seems innocent at first, and then the group blasts off into a heavier spectrum, accented by a gang vocal shouting. It hints at the excellence to come in just a few moments when “Clay Baby” begins to play. Everything about this song is absolutely perfect, from the lyrics to the vocal delivery of Alex Kerns to the sound of the guitar. Sure, there’s definitely a throwback feeling here, but it’s executed so perfectly that I’ll continue to play it for quite some time.
During my first few listens to The Distance Is So Big, I definitely gravitated towards the singing of Kerns as opposed to that of Sheena, but the more I play this album, the more I realize the record wouldn’t be complete if it was just one singer. For instance, on “Paint the Youth, Sheena takes the show, winning you over with her bass lines and her casually sultry voice, but the appearance of Kerns off and on really ties the song together as a whole. If they weren’t able to operate in the same realm, then perhaps the formula wouldn’t allow for the success of the release, which is wholly not the case.
Personally, I keep gravitating to the tracks that seem to have a louder force from the get-go, such as “Dream Eater,” which takes about 15 seconds before it lets you rock your way through the entire track. Or you can look at “Public Opinion Bath,’ using discordant guitar sounds from the start to wear out your eardrums. Yet, even with my tendency to rock, I like the fact that Lemuria also knows when to let a song sprawl to glory, as they do in “Oahu, Hawaii.” If you’re looking for my opinion, this is the sure-fire hit that can’t be avoided, with the guitar building tension from the moment you press play. As the tones get heavier, you expect an imminent explosion, yet the band never fully unleashes that sound. Instead they rely on the female/male interplay to insert a nice hook during the chorus; it’s loud and it’s quiet and you’ve got a catchiness factor that all leads to a standout.
My first run through The Distance Is So Big was really all that I needed to catch on to this album. There were songs that stood out like “Clay Baby,” “Ruby” and “Oahu, Hawaii” almost immediately, which is enough songs to keep me going back nowadays. So I traveled back with this record, in more than one sense, and I found other gems and other qualities that showed Lemuria reveling in the past while pushing their sound forward. Be grateful.
Download: Lemuria – Oahu, Hawaii [MP3]