Lord Huron, the indie rock group from Los Angeles, have had quite a few years to grow into their trademark sound of atmospheric landscapes and wandering journeys. Vide Noir, the third studio album and their first on a major label, was mixed by Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, The Flaming Lips) and self-produced by front-man Ben Schneider, in which he has crafted his early career masterpiece. Schneider recently credited this album to a new habit of taking nighttime drives around LA and the “search for meaning amidst the cold indifference of the universe,” according to his recent social media posts.
Straight from the album opener, “Lost in Time and Space,” we are immediately transported to a dark yet clear night landscape with subtle sounds of buzzing lights, background whispers, a harp, and eventually the folk strumming of Schneider’s acoustic guitar cuts through the soft noise. In the track, Schneider admits, “I don’t know who I am, I don’t know where I am,” and the listener is immediately pulled in to go on this journey with the band.
The tempo turns rapidly with the subsequent track, “Never Ever,” which thumps along like an up-tempo Bruce Springsteen song, and delivers a rewarding chorus stating, “I don’t care if I live or die/I will never ever love another one the way I loved her/if I ever learn to love again/I will wait until the end/’Cause I don’t know where, I don’t know when/Baby, I’m gonna see her again.” This optimism and willingness to continue on through tough times is easily relatable, and fits well with the rest of this stellar LP.
The first single, “Ancient Names (Part I),” rocks with the bravado of Queens of the Stone Age, and the pop sensibilities in the chorus of The Strokes. This early album standout was an easy choice as a single, as it not only is extremely radio friendly, but its tones and themes mesh well with the album artwork. It’s nearly impossible to get through this track without finding yourself bopping along with the hand claps and the immediacy of the song. One thing is for sure, Lord Huron is done with painting with a singular color.
“Ancient Names (Part II)” continues the upbeat nature of the album and mirrors the previous track, while sounding like a steady punk rock anthem that builds to a chorus of, “I live my life like this/Just to prove to the world that I still exist/I don’t believe in life/And I won’t believe in death ’til I die.” At this point in the album, the listener is very much in tune to the sound and direction Lord Huron is going for, and surely they won’t be hard-pressed to find memorable moments as Vide Noir progresses.
Mid-album track, “Wait by the River,” lets the listener catch their breath from the two previous rockers, and sets the plate well for “Secret of Life,” where bassist Miguel Briseno nearly steals the show with an incredibly unique bass line that will soon become a crowd favorite during their planned tour in support of the album. The band has truly come into their own on this effort, and shows that they were more than ready for the pressure that comes with a major label release.
“When the Night is Over” sounds like a jazz club in LA and would be perfect for the same night drives that Schneider has grown accustomed to for inspiration of the album. “Vide Noir” opens with a doo-wop beat and finds Schneider again reminiscing of his lost love, and invites the listener into his head space where the longing of being wanted is apparent, yet optimism reigns supreme.
In just three short albums time, Lord Huron has solidified themselves as Indie Rock’s next big thing. Time to hop on the bandwagon now before it gets full.