If you haven’t heard Charlie Puth’s latest single, don’t bother. Puth, like many artists, has found himself stuck in the cycle of needing to produce some next big thing to stay current, and it just keeps backfiring. But one group that has stayed true to their roots, and just celebrated a decade since their first album, is The Lumineers.
“We’re so thankful for the journey we’ve been on, and how we’ve been able to keep the music alive all of these years,” the band wrote on Instagram. The Lumineers have kept their music alive by keeping it consistent, while many other artists are falling ill with the ravenous desire to be trendy.
While Puth started his career with heartfelt and beautifully melodic songs like “See You Again” with Wiz Khalifa, his latest hit “Light Switch” is just another catchy pop song. Even worse, it’s just another TikTok song.
In an attempt to literally switch things up, Puth took a nosedive into TikTok, posting teasers for this single that sound nothing like his old music. The result is a shallow, cliche pop song only made famous by an algorithm.
Coldplay is another example of artists failing to reinvent themselves. Their 2008 “Viva La Vida” and 2014 “Ghost Stories” are remarkable albums. I still drive with my windows down to “Life in Technicolor,” “Lovers in Japan,” and “Strawberry Swing.”
That’s because these albums string together beautiful narratives and offer genuine, authentic music. Best of all, the lyrics are all still current and the songs will never age out. But their 2021 album “Music of the Spheres” is far from a masterpiece. It’s too exotic, over-the-top, and predictable.
Alicia Keys’s latest album, “Keys,” is another travesty. It’s a two-disc set of new music that’s “remixed” on the other side of the record. Keys has been a chart-topping A-list artist since she was 20 years old, winning 15 Grammys, hosting multiple awards shows, and judging on “The Voice,” but she still feels the need to do something new.
A handful of songs on “Keys” remind us of her good old days, but the choruses are once again overly predictable, not clever or tasteful. This album isn’t just two for the price of one — it’s more than an hour and a half of music to listen to, and the electric-remixed songs are not worth the listen at all.
At the end of the day, artists eventually have two options: go deep, or go wide. They can either delve into and master their particular genre and voice, or they can try to reinvent themselves and do something splashy and “new.”
To the budding — and aging — artists: You don’t need to outdo timeless classics with something spunky and fresh. You’ll only end up hurting yourself in the end. It’s okay to produce music that’s not as grand as past hits. That’s exactly what The Lumineers have done and they’re not worse because of it.
The Lumineers’ latest release, “Brightside,” features just nine songs and 30 minutes of music, but this short album feels more like a familiar cup of tea rather than a quick shot of some new espresso. The new collection doesn’t measure up to The Lumineers’ previous musical masterpieces, such as “Cleopatra” and “III,” but it was never meant to outshine them with out-of-the-park tunes.
“Even though the band was more emotional with their lyrics on this album, it’s undeniable that ‘Brightside’ is not their best album,” said Logan Humphrey on The Post. Although Humphrey’s claim sounds more like a diss, it’s revealing of The Lumineers’ honorable music mindset. In “Brightside,” they weren’t concerned with trending tracks and topping charts. Instead, they’ve given their audience music curated just for them.
Throughout all their discography, The Lumineers remain raw, clear, and intentional. Each song on “Brightside” is crafted with precise lyrics, soft sounds, and deliberate vocals.
Though some may argue that “Brightside” isn’t as immersive as their 13-track “III,” it’s immersive in a much softer, more inclusive way. “Brightside” sounds as if we’re sitting in a living room with Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, the founding members of the band.
“A.M. Radio,” the second track on the album, almost feels like a live cover — because that’s what The Lumineers do. They’re storytellers, singing for us and with us. These songs aren’t intended to be one-hit wonders.
In “Big Shot,” The Lumineers confirm this. Schultz sings out “And you wanna be a big shot / You wanna be the big man.” Apparently, he doesn’t want to be the big shot, he just wants to keep singing.
What truly stands out in “Brightside” is The Lumineers’ presence in each song. Their personality and voice aren’t lost in chintzy lyrics or new electronic rock beats. Although this stripped-down folk-rock band didn’t try to make a “big shot” album, what matters is that they’re staying true to what they know.
Some may be disappointed that this album isn’t better than “Cleopatra,” but that’s not the point. The point is that The Lumineers are OK with not trending or stunning the audience with something different. They’re simply concerned with creating art for their audience. I’ll take that over an entire album flop any day.