Lemuria - The Distance Is So Big
In the six years since we first profiled Lemuria, they’ve quietly gone about their business, a heavy touring schedule ensuring a slow build to a point where the rest of the world is finally starting to catch up. Reunited with producer J. Robbins (who also did 2011’s Pebble) and the first outing for bassist Max Gregor, The Distance Is So Big is the album you imagine they’ve had in their heads all along, and finds their feet firmly in the artsier, college rock camp alongside the likes of Yo La Tengo or Sebadoh.
Sheena Ozzella’s vocals skip playfully on lead single ‘Brilliant Dancer’, summarizing the entire album in just over three minutes: the sonic palette is wider, with hints of keyboard fleshing out the trio’s sound, their oft-stated desire to play around with tricksy time signatures and tempo changes given full vent. Drummer Alex Kerns’ almost jazzy approach to his kit keeps his bandmates on their toes - and the listener engaged; although there is a recognisable Lemuria 'sound' by now, it's hard to second guess where any particular track may go on initial listens.
A mid-album peak comes with the sing-song melodies of 'Oahu, Hawaii', with its sweet banality ("There's a lot of islands in Hawaii") and the Lemonheads-y strum of 'Chihuly' (which appears to be partly inspired by sculptor Dale Chihuly - who said the kids had nothing to say any more?), both of which shop window Ozzella and Kerns' by-now trademark vocal interchange. The album's strongest moment may come however, with the melancholy, faltering waltz of 'Congratulations Sex' and its resigned refrain of "Tired of tragedies being trumped", successfully capturing the messy politics of romance.
If The Distance ... has one weakness, it's that it perhaps lacks a straight ahead, radio-friendly unit shifter that might get them more airplay or an appearance on Jimmy Fallon. But in terms of a band successfully capturing intent and developing their craft, this is an album of considerable merit.