Album Review: Lemuria - 'The Distance Is So Big'

17 June 2013 | 1:45 am | Staff Writer

Catchy, quirky and confident - this is Lemuria at their best.

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There's something about New York trio Lemuria's unique brand of 'indie rock by way of pop punk' that's just ineffably charming. There's an earnest sense of humility in their sound, their lyrics and the way they carry themselves that's been wonderfully endearing since their 2004 inception. With third full-length 'The Distance Is So Big', the band hold on to the elements that by this point are proud marks of the “Lemuria sound” while showing a sense of conviction and self-assuredness that demonstrates a comfortable level of maturity.

A brief introduction track and we find ourselves at 'Brilliant Dancer', lead single and first “real” track on the record. It feels like a welcome back, as well as a dip into slightly new territory, eschewing the immediate punchiness of 'Get Better' opener 'Pants' and somber melancholia of 'Gravity' from 'Pebble'. Opening with a fairly unassuming, clean guitar riff, it seamlessly becomes what's by far the album's catchiest number. What becomes instantly clear about 'The Distance Is So Big' is how tight the band function as a unit, despite the album being the first with new bassist Max Gregor.

As mentioned, the band's signatures are on full display on 'The Distance Is So Big'. For one, it's catchy as hell. The forceful-yet-poppy guitar riffs of 'Scienceless' and 'Public Opinion Bath' feel undoubtedly Lemuria with clear intent, as if to say defiantly “This is who we are”. 'Oahu, Hawaii' features a ridiculously hooky chorus reminiscent of “Chautauqau Country” from their last album that, besides being super infectious, is just real fun. There's also the vocal interchange - Sheena Ozzella and Alex Kerns have always shared vocal duties, but album number three sees the pair do it with a sense of masterful execution and chemistry that serves as proof of how long the two have spent perfecting their dynamics together. Ozzella's high register is given space to be ambitious, backed up by Kerns' familiar deep, brooding tone, and when they come together it adds another level of depth, as seen best on 'Dream Eater' and 'Chihuly'.

What was almost frustratingly disappointing about previous album, 'Pebble' was the album hosted its fair share of standout, catchy, energetic songs – but lost among them were several tracks that were just... okay. It was a matter of the good songs being REALLY good – but the rest of the album feeling kind of underwhelming. With 'The Distance Is So Big', there are obvious standout tracks, but it's really just quite solid from start to finish. Rather than feeling like a somewhat muddled up-and-down journey, 'The Distance Is So Big' feels like a much smoother, coherent experience.

Ultimately, 'The Distance Is So Big' is such a satisfying album because it feels like the record Lemuria have been trying to make for almost a decade now. There's a newfound feeling of confidence and a refined grace that makes the album stand as their crowning full-length, wholly encapsulating their ethos.

1. Michael and Stephen Moon

2. Brilliant Dancer

3. Clay Baby

4. Scienceless

5. Paint the Youth

6. Dream Eater

7. Oahu, Hawaii

8. Chihuly

9. Bluffing Statistics

10. Public Opinion Bath

11. Congratulations Sex

12. Survivor's Guilt

13. Ruby