Strap on your suspenders: The Lumineers are back. The group has close ties to New York, where guitarist Wesley Schultz and percussionist–mandolin picker Jeremiah Fraites played early gigs. (Fraites lost his brother, Josh, in 2002, and Josh’s best friend, Schultz, bonded with Fraites over the tragedy.) On the Lumineers’ smash hit, “Ho Hey,” the band harmonizes through destiny-driven stilted chants and Schultz sings, “I don’t think you’re right for him / Look at what it might have been if you’d / Took a bus to Chinatown / I’d be standing on Canal / And Bowery / She’d be standing next to me.”
Now the trio is based in Denver, where it’s picked up cellist Neyla Pekarek and the Americana-folk bona fides that a state like Colorado can provide. It has proved an ample and devoted breeding ground: The band’s rootsy debut, The Lumineers, has gone gold, and “Ho Hey” has popped up everywhere from a Bing ad to a trailer for Oscar contender Silver Linings Playbook. In January, the Lumineers plucked their way through “Ho Hey” and a second single, “Stubborn Love,” on SNL.
“Stubborn Love” begins ruminatively, Pekarek’s cello weeping alongside Schultz’s lovelorn lyrics. But it builds nimbly, with three voices stirringly singing together. At SXSW 2012, the Lumineers confidently dominated an outdoor stage, excelling in brisk climbs. In its songs and trajectory, the young trio has melded assurance and catchiness to surge, ever so swiftly, to the top.—Colin St. John
The Lumineers play Coachella Sunday April 14 and Sunday April 21.