Whether it’s uppers or antidepressants, it seems that something has lifted the spirits of Lemuria in the two-year interlude since their last full length. Things aren’t always rosier or quick-tempoed on The Distance Is So Big, but on their third LP, the Buffalo-based trio seems content to cling to one of those poles.
After getting the forboding haze of voices on “Michael and Stephen Moon” out of the way, Sheena Ozzella and Alex Kearns (who handle guitar and drums respectively, each contributing vocals) settle into the well-worn Lay-Z-Boy of “Brilliant Dancer.” On Get Better and Pebble, the duo, aided by a rotating cast of bass players, crafted largely midtempo post-hardcore jams like a saccharine Jawbox, which is perhaps no coincidence given that their last two records were recorded at J. Robbins’s studio in Baltimore. By that token, the lilt that “Brilliant Dancer” hints at in its opening moments is familiar territory for the band. But in addition to – or perhaps because of – the optimism smeared across The Distance Is Big, “Brilliant Dancer” flicks through a couple of different channels of pop-punk history and chorus-worthy vocal melodies, before finally settling on a “I Wanna Be Yr Dog” piano plink and an Ozzella vocal way goddamn happier than anything Iggy might have ever snarled out.
It’s engaging stuff, and surprisingly so, considering the well-trod intersection between labyrinthine post-hardcore and smirking strains of indie pop, but it’s unfortunately not something that Lemuria can sustain over the course of the record. The title-dropping “Oahu, Hawaii” proves a similarly shapeshifting highlight, but there are times when the smiles can feel a bit too forced. While the best moments on The Distance Is So Big have hooks to spare, “Scienceless” and “Public Opinion Bath” could’ve used at least one. It’s just hard to maintain that kind of optimism over the course of a whole record.
Essential Tracks: “Oahu, Hawaii”, “I Wanna Br Yr Dog”