Lemuria - Brilliant Dancer [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Brilliant Dancer [7-inch] (2013)

Bridge Nine

While Lemuria's 2008 debut full-length Get Better has remained a fan favorite for valid reasons, 2011's Pebble left a lot of people cold. It could've been the anticipation–the band had jumped from Asian Man to Bridge Nine and recorded the album with J. Robbins, and those two factors combined with the near-universal reverence of Get Better definitely inflated anticipation. But while Get Better and Pebble are both lyrically dark albums, the former had a far sunnier sonic disposition than the latter. Robbins' production was–as it usually is–airy, austere and very organic-sounding, and some felt it didn't bring out Lemuria's once-inherent pop songwriting chops as much as was needed to be effective.

Are expectations for The Distance is So Big tempered a little bit? Maybe, but judging by what Lemuria have released from it so far, there's cause for excitement. The Brilliant Dancer single seems to keep the alt-brooding of Pebble intact while incorporating those lighter production elements found on Get Better. Not only that, but it's readily apparent that the band are more comfortable than ever as musicians and songwriters: The title track is seemingly two songs in one, with its quiet beginnings, ratcheted verses and anthemic choruses. Sheena Ozzella and Alex Kerns harmonize better than they ever have before, and Kerns' percussion is particularly interesting, seamlessly changing tempos on a dime. Then, the song stops. Upon first listen, one might think it's over. Once it returns, one might really think it's over because what returns sounds like an entirely different song: the band slow the tempo, up the piano and drive their instruments into the ground, with the exception of Ozzella's and Kern's vocals, which continue to hover over everything. It's jarring and it works.

"Helloing," the b-side exclusive to this single, is a showcase for Kerns' vocal range, which until now mostly comprised of low and lower. He's improved considerably, able to inflect higher when the song calls for it and quickly go back lower when Ozzella chimes in on the choruses. Musically, the song is far more straightforward than "Brilliant Dancer": there's some neat bass lines from Max Gregor throughout the verses that conform to Ozzella's darkly evolving riffs toward the song's end, but it's mostly a solid Lemuria song with some nice vocal interplay, a few moments of interesting musicianship, and little flash. In other words, a perfectly acceptable b-side.

The Distance Is So Big is due out June 18, 2013 via Bridge Nine Records.