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Cleopatra: Simplicity is Key

Written by Alex Kehn


The Lumineers have been a consistent presence in the world of indie, alternative, and folk music since they burst onto the scene with their debut self-titled album in 2012. After receiving some moderate criticism on their debut album for over-production, The Lumineers regrouped and worked for 4 long years to create their sophomore album, Cleopatra. With the release of Cleopatra, The Lumineers created a uniquely simple, warm-feeling album, with deep lyrical undertones. This review will evaluate the lyricism, production, and problems present throughout The Lumineers' second album, Cleopatra.


Lyrics:


Wesley Schultz's lyricism and vocals are absolutely phenomenal throughout the entirety of Cleopatra, uncovering deep-rooted emotions through his passionate vocal style. There are eleven base tracks, and four bonus tracks on Cleopatra, each one telling a completely different story. The Lumineers' sophomore album contains three main lyrical concepts: love, loneliness, and redemption. Every track builds on one of these concepts.


Ophelia, the first single released from Cleopatra, makes reference to Shakespeare's iconic stageplay, Hamlet, not only in its title but in its contents as well. In Hamlet, Hamlet's love interest, named Ophelia, suffers from a mental state of madness, falls out of a tree into a river, and drowns. In the track Ophelia, Schultz references Shakespeare's iconic play through the lyric "oh, Ophelia/ you've been on my mind, girl, since the flood/ oh, Ophelia/ heaven help the fool who falls in love". Lyrically, this is not a particularly difficult to grasp reference, however, Shakespeare references in modern music are not exceptionally common. Despite what the song states, Ophelia is not about a person, but it is about The Lumineers' rise to stardom according to Wesley Schultz. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Schultz said that Ophelia vaguely refers to people falling in love with fame and becoming a stranger to your loved ones.


Cleopatra is a lyrical masterpiece from start to finish, never lacking in creativity, and thoroughly thought provoking. Wesley Schultz's voice carries immense emotion and brings every track to life. The Lumineers do a fantastic job of storytelling, completely encapsulating the listener on every song throughout the LP.


Production:


The production on Cleopatra is very simple and organic, letting Schultz's vocals shine through gorgeous instrumentals. There are no background vocals present on the entire album, making every track feel very natural and 'human'. Only a few instruments are played throughout Cleopatra, and all of them are played by the other band members, meaning that there is no computerized audio on The Lumineers' second album. The instrumentals fill every track with a cozy warmth, creating an upbeat atmosphere over lyrics that are melancholic. While listening to Cleopatra, I couldn't help but feel an immense summertime warmth from the acoustic guitars and drums. There are piano chordes present on nearly every track, which work to combine the vocals and other instrumentals together seamlessly. The Lumineers work to create unique sounds on their sophomore album as well. On Ophelia, the drums are replaced with stomping feet on a wood floor, once again incorporating a natural, human-made feel to the track.


Problems:


There are only a few problems throughout Cleopatra, although the issues do slightly effect the enjoyment of this album. A major problem that I found through my listening experience was the slightly repetitive vocal performances, especially in the second half of the album. I feel as though some of the bonus tracks could have been left off of the album due to the fact that they are so similar to the base tracks. Wesley Schultz does have a fantastic voice, but when listening to it for an extended period of time, burnout is very likely, and a break from listening may be necessary.


Another problem that I noticed while listening to Cleopatra doesn't really apply to the recorded album, but instead it effects the live performances of this LP. The instrumentals are very mild, and as a result, don't allow for big stadium performances of Cleopatra. The Lumineers' second album thrives at smaller shows because that is the only way to truly experience the beauty of Cleopatra, meaning that it would be quite difficult to enjoy a live performance at a large venue.


Conclusion:


The Lumineers have created an amazing album with deep lyricism and simple, cozy instrumentals. Cleopatra is The Lumineers' magnum opus album and it is great in every sense of the word. The only downsides are the slightly repetative nature of Wesley Schultz's voice, the amount of unnecessary bonus tracks, and the inability for the album to be preformed properly live. Overall I would rate Cleopatra 8/10.

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3 Comments


Mr ReviewCritique
Mr ReviewCritique
Mar 03, 2021

this Is very lackluster and a tad bit wordy. I enjoyed your college dropout tho...

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Cleopatra oh so beautiful :)

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Cool read my guy!!!


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