From the first look on the cover of this album, you get a feeling that there will be something substantial inside. The tone of the cover art reflects the nostalgic feeling of an old novel, one that’s spent some time collecting dust in the bin of a backstreet vintage shop. The graphics are slightly fuzzy, much like the music contained, which is coated with reverb. Prominently placed in the forefront is the much clearer back of a man, already embarked on a journey. There is also a reference at the top of the cover, from back when Stereo was new and the music world was still entrenched with Mono.
Even the song titles, with names such as ‘Dead Man’s Hands’, ‘Meet Me in the Woods’, and ‘Frozen Pines’, continue the novel theme that will, in the end, tie everything together.
The band’s sound is tight and deliberate with just a hint of twang and sorrow. The lead singer’s voice evokes a feeling of hardship and loss, acting both as a narrator and character looking for something but never quite finding it. All of these elements are then soaked in a bath of Americana, folk and rockabilly to create a mellow experience of a time gone by.
Despite the painstaking and specific attention to detail that have been used on the aesthetic of this album, the overall experience is somewhat lackluster – incredibly surprising as the album is recorded so well. This is not to say that Lord Huron are not adept songwriters, more so that the album can blur into a single entity with little differentiation. The odd thing about this is that you do not notice this fact until the very end. Partly could be due to tone of the album near the end slows down, and loses a bit of the frontier pep of the beginning.
With an album that promises such a distinct and embracing experience as an old novel – especially with a title such as Strange Trails – the overall experience is not all that strange; there are trails but they feel familiar. It is almost as if you woke up one morning, rented a car you have never drove before with the intention of going to a location you have always dreamed about. Only to find out that the location really is not all the different from everywhere else you have been. The experience was great, and there is nothing specifically wrong to point out, it just did not live up to the created hype.
Check out Lord Huron here.