The Vermont Cynic

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Band releases road trip sound

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When an album takes you to the very edge of the world and back, it’s worth a listen.

“Strange Trails” weaves tales of lost love, brushes with death and journeys into the unknown. A Los Angeles-based foursome has revived the indie-folk style they’ve been crafting since 2010 to greet old and new fans alike. The foursome, Lord Huron, is named after Lake Huron, where lead singer Ben Schneider spent his summers.

Following up the 2012 release of “Lonesome Dreams,” Lord Huron’s album “Strange Trails” does what most sophomore albums fail to do: blow their heavily lauded predecessor out of the water. The listener is indeed taken down strange trails with dreamlike Americana tracks dealing with mortality and life on the road, such as “Meet Me in the Woods,” “Way Out There,” “The Yawning Grave” and “Dead Man’s Hand.”

The LPs opener “Love Like Ghosts” is a driving, atmospheric proclamation by frontman Ben Schneider. “There ain’t a language for the things I feel,” Schneider sings, which ultimately feels like a straight-faced lie given the highly poetic nature of his lyrics.

Diverging from Lord Huron’s classic alt-country sound, “Meet Me in the Woods” unexpectedly channels a dark ‘80s Springsteen. It is most memorable for its reverberating vocals and medley of instrumentals that seem to have been collected on their journeys near and far.

“Darkness brings evil things, oh the reckoning begins” is mournfully sung in compliment to tittering bells in the standout “The Yawning Grave.” The bells build a seamless bridge into “Frozen Pines” that recalls the flow of “The Ghost on the Shore” into “She Lit a Fire” on their debut album.

The album closes with a yearning question mark rather than a conclusive period. “The Night We Met” is subtly the most intoxicating track on the album. Schneider confesses “I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you” over instrumentals and vocals that can only be compared to howling prairie winds.

A clear creative energy lingers over “Strange Trails.” It isn’t a stand-alone album, but rather a single piece in the thematic puzzle of Lord Huron’s vision. Listeners should anticipate follow-up comic books, interactive phone lines and a short film.

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Band releases road trip sound