Lord Huron - Vide Noir
Lord Huron arrived at the tail end of the ethereal Americana boom of the the last five years. They sound was rich and dense but managed to float along with this almost hymn sort of vibe. It felt like you were praising at the alter of hipsterdom whenever Lord Huron would sing. Lord Huron however always seemed to be right on the outer edge of that scene never fully pushing through. This album needed to be big for them, now on a major label and with more expectations since indie rock has all but faded to obscurity in 2018. Lord Huron have appropriately shifted their sound, kind of, employing more upbeat rhythms and kicking the pace a notch or two higher throughout this new record Vide Noir. The album feels really closely aligned with what they have done in the past save for a few stylistic switches here and there like on "Secret of Life" where they take on an almost Beach Boys sound with their guitars. It feels like there is a lot of exploring going on here and a lot of experimentation to try and see where Lord Huron fits in in 2018. The last Local Natives album felt similar in that they are still attempting to find the style that suits them best, not wanting to rest on previous work or just become a general rock band like Mumford and Sons did on their last record. "The Balancer's Eye" sort of has that Rock vibe to it, but luckily the music and lyrics remaining other worldly enough to keep the song from feeling like another Americana romp. Yet the hang on that edge ever so precariously throughout this record, leaving you with the feeling that they are as tenuous on where their sound is going as we are.
Lord Huron is at their best when they are the most dreamy, allowing the music to flow and shift like water. However when they try and push things, and speed up the tempo it makes everything feel totally odd and clunky. You keep waiting for something interesting to happen or something vivid or striking, but it feels like Lord Huron is out of ideas pretty early on. This entire record is a slight shift but it's barely noticeable and not fun enough to pull you out of the muck that this album is entrenched in. You are left wanting to soar, wanting to hear that sunset festival type of set that would be Lord Huron's most amazing moment, but none of the songs come really even close. It's even hard to imagine that any of the tracks on Vide Noir would make it on to Lord Huron's last album, let alone be singles. The album falls into that territory that Arcade Fire fell into as well where this super earnest music tends sound a bit silly the more and more you hear it. A shift back to Americana is not the answer and nor is the album we have with Vide Noir. Who knows where Lord Huron's journey may take them, but let's hope that Vide Noir is just a bump in the road rather than a signal of the end for Lord Huron.
5.0 out of 10