Claire Neiberg | Staff Writer
From dancing to “Ho Hey” at my eighth-grade formal to singing along to “Cleopatra” at my high school coffeehouses, I have always been a fan of The Lumineers’ hit songs, as they bring back joyful memories of growing up.
I had high expectations for the Sept. 13 release of their third studio album, III, and needless to say, it exceeded all of my expectations while showcasing another side of The Lumineers’ music.
Since I have only listened to their previous, most popular songs one-at-a-time in social situations, I did not realize the importance of listening to this album chronologically or understand its impact at first. I also did not see the dark picture of addiction they were trying to illustrate.
The folk-rock band has been advertising their album since April when they began to release the songs in chapters leading up to the final product. Chapter I includes, “Donna,” “Life in the City,” and “Gloria” and introduces the Sparks family.
While fictionalized, the Sparks family represents an average American family that is struggling with addiction to alcohol. The founding and lead members of the band, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, crafted the family and their story to reflect their own experiences that were affected by addiction.
The release of the album in chapters not only served as creative marketing but symbolized that recovering from addiction is a process. When listened to in chronological order, the songs tell the story of the Sparks family whose lives have been torn apart by alcohol abuse.
In the first song, “Donna,” a woman (Gloria) is reflecting on her mother (Donna) and how she left her to raise her own family, as she left her with very little guidance and had a strained relationship with her own mother growing up. “Life in the City” is more upbeat compared to the other two tracks in the first chapter but explains Gloria’s rocky background and how she ends up spiraling into drinking away her problems. In the last song of the chapter, “Gloria,” the listener learns about Gloria’s abusive nature to her own child.
There is also a series of 10 music videos that have been released periodically as well. I recommend watching the videos alongside listening to the album, as they bring the songs to life and give insight to who the characters in the songs are. Addiction is one of the hardest trials a family can go through. The music videos reinforce the idea that addiction is a cycle that spans several generations.
Similar to other songs by The Lumineers, all of the songs on the album have a calming, acoustic aura to them that is pleasant to listen to, despite the melancholy lyrics.
One will simply take from this album what they put into it. Alone, all of the songs are enjoyable, but they are difficult to understand since they are part of an intricate story of a family. I highly recommend giving III a listen because it paints the ugliest situations ordinary people go through in beautiful colors.