Republic Records · April 20, 2018
Lord Huron eases into the world of music label producing with their third album Vide Noir. “Vide Noir” is French for Black Void, which says a lot of an album that chooses to discuss hard-hitting and stimulating universal and cosmic themes. Lord Huron combines clean musical talent, synergy, and variety to flush out interesting ideas of self-identity with internal monologues that appear to be fueled by love and loss. The 12 tracks of Vide Noir all could be travel songs. They have with long, smooth and consistent phases to songs that make it seem like all the listeners are taken on a ride of love, wandering, learning, and forgiveness.
The listener’s journey starts with ‘Lost in Time and Space,’ as the first sounds of the album slowly ease into focus. Soft and subtle strings pull the listener down into the black void and the audience experiences the despair that occupies the album for the first time. “Drowning in a sea of stars/Lost in a galaxy of cocktail bars,” our subject is distraught at a lost lover. “She took my money but she didn’t take me” and other anecdotes of sorrow display a conflicted theme in this rhythmically rocking foundation for this album.
Quick to show their versatility in style and composition, Lord Huron embraces a faster and punkier style beat for ‘Never Ever,’ yet is filled with frustration over a lost, sublime lover and their accompanied euphoria (a theme that remains for long sections of the album). The song’s only chorus bursts through with power emotion at the end of the song past its first three verses. This passion perseveres to the next section of the album in both parts of the next song, ‘Ancient Names’.
‘Ancient Names’ I and II follow a guru analyzing our subject’s life with depressing results, as the former depicts a fortune teller dispelling bad news for the protagonist. Coupled with a fast beat and steady base, guitar solos of different speeds and tones riddle the track until it descends into a low toned simmer. The simmer holds until the second part, when the band breaks out into their grungiest part of the album. They spout statements of refutation like, “I scream and shout like this/Just to prove to the world that I still exist.” In just a couple songs, Vide Noir shows Lord Huron can jump around and tickle many facets of our musical minds.
After the previous tracks, the album takes a sharp turn with a slower song, ‘Wait by the River,’ which follows a rather persistent person who is prepared to endure a fate of unforgiveness and hopelessness even for a small chance at redemption. The song is a slow burner like a waltz but still filled with character, making for a soothing and nice change of pace.
Next up is ‘Secret of Life,’ a song that intensifies throughout its play. It surrounds the predicament of our narrator learning the secret of life, only to have it be taken away, leaving him to chase the high that they so fondly remembered as the peak of life. The track oscillates through these contemplative lyrics with a mesmerizing and psychedelic background and an upbeat tempo. It’s a musically full song, bringing a sense of comfort as the waved background vocals flood this song and has your neurons firing on all cylinders.
After ‘Secret of Life’” we are graced with ‘Back from The Edge’ a song I imagine listening to during a break of some long trek across a vast wilderness. Tired from my trekking across some unyielding terrain I sit down and unstrap my boots and support myself on nearby log and let the unwavering base and scenic guitar whisk me away into a slumber.
‘The Balancers Eye’ is one song with some supposed lore behind it, carrying messages and myths that the band members created themselves and connecting with previous albums’ lyrics. Aside from that, there’s nothing particularly special in the track, as it shifts from one catchy, burst of musical cluster to the next. By now, in the album Lord Huron appears to have solidified the sound they were going for, so at this point in the album, my ears felt like they were hearing different versions of the same thing. Unfortunately, this experience continues to ‘When the Night is Over’ whose first note instantly reminded me of ‘Wait by the River.’ Another slow pulse, ‘When the Night is Over,’ creeps across themes of blues, sorrow, and hopefulness. “Shadows drifting in the rain/Slowly driving me insane,” this lesson of lost love is just paralleled by a deep canyon, cowboy base-fueled rhythm and some lonesome whistling.
Lord Huron shifts themes from loss and contemplation to dreams on ‘Moonbeam,’ which transports listeners to a cloud made of dopamine. The pre-chorus explains: “When you saved me from a bad dream / I was drifting through time and space / But I landed on a moonbeam.” This song ushers in a sense of safety, like we are just along for the ride, sharing our narrator’s joy. Throughout the song, the “woos” from the background give an uplifting feeling to this song, and the rising scale as the focus point in the conclusion of the chorus produces further feelings of joy.
The last two songs explore the themes, feelings, and self-destruction that accompanies them into a “pure black void.” While the first of the two is blatant about its messages, ‘Emerald Star’ helps facilitate a bittersweet ending to the album. The last song follows the predicament of our longing lover finally reaching his goal: his previous partner. Instead of a loving embrace and a happily ever after, they are cast away, being told he was never loved and his steadfastness is futile. Like a shot through the heart, Lord Huron finally comes to a rather rough, but powerful resting place. The ending to the album itself gives good indicator to the magnitude of the album’s theme that the band wanted portrayed.
Lord Huron’s Vide Noir is soothing and clean, and its songs are psychedelic and smooth, and while its pace is predictable, the final product is still refreshing. Although the songs don’t make you want to jump out of your seat, they will service you by being a good mediator between intense themes of longing, love, and the acceptance of bittersweet realities.