The first time I listened to a song by The Lumineers, I didn't even realize it. Bing, Google's quasi brother, has been running a commercial featuring the band's single "Ho Hey," which sets the mood for a vaguely life-affirming video montage of people jumping off rocks into Hawaiian lagoons and friends goofing off around campfires on beaches -- an apparent celebration of the marriage between social networking and the ever-optimistic human condition... or something to that effect, I'm not quite sure. Uninspired advertising notwithstanding, people definitely seem to be buying into The Lumineers; their self-titled album sold over 10,000 copies just two months after its April 3 release date. And this makes me wonder: Wasn't it only yesterday that Chevy was running a commercial featuring a song titled "We Are Young" by a not-yet-so-ubiquitous group called Fun? Now, I'm not even a little bit surprised to find that song playing simultaneously on three different radio stations. Is this further evidence of a tyrannical march toward the commoditization and subsequent death of art? Have we become unwitting accomplices in the consumption of audible McDonalds? Am I overreacting? Why am I asking you so many questions?
Here's the good news: I don't think The Lumineers have yet fallen prey to mass-produced, over-hyped, faux-indie sludge. The album itself is pretty solid. On a scale from Zero to Jesus, I would give it a "Pretty Good." Moments range from punchy, piano and drum driven melodies on "Submarines," to bittersweet string harmonies on "Stubborn Love," to chugging acoustic guitars on "Classy Girls" and "Flowers in Your Hair." Most songs are up-tempo and hand-clappable (as evidenced by all the hand clapping going on in "Big Parade"). The Lumineers have a rustic style, fusing the energy of country and bluegrass with a softer, folksier side. When this band swings their momentum into full gear, their infectious rhythm catches you in its centripetal force. Don't be surprised to suddenly realize you've been tapping your feet, bobbing your head, or drumming your fingers to this album the whole time. It happened to me, too.