Lemuria, a hypothetical lost land, has since been rendered obsolete as a theory. As a continent, it’s now written about mainly by fans of the occult and largely ignored by popular culture. Considering the tongue-in-cheek, pause and then thrash nature of Lemuria’s third full-length, The Distance Is So Big you’d have to think that this Buffalo-bred three piece has now fully realized their sound, occupying a place between fact and fiction, widescale success and cult-like fame among those who revel in the artists that often go overlooked.
There are hooks aplenty on The Distance Is So Big, augmented by the production work of J. Robbins, who has in the past helped punk acts break out of the confined shell that critics have forced them into. The dual vocals of Alex Kerns and Sheena Ozzella have on Lemuria’s first two records sounded like little more than pleasant exchanges; yet on The Distance Is So Big, it is the engulfing harmonies they produce which become the band’s most endearing quality. The hooks are honest and about as compelling as possible considering this is a three piece band that favors slacker jams and would have certainly found a home on college rock radio in the mid-‘90s. The Distance Is So Big is their most concise effort, surpassing past full-lengths Pebble and Get Better. Though the band has built up a loyal following, the balance of oddities, including the somewhat frustrating stop and start progress throughout “Public Opinion Bath” and intoxicating melodies of album highlights “Oahu, Hawaii” and “Chihuly”, is probably enough to hold them back from larger stages and audiences.
Of course, this probably doesn’t bother Lemuria all that much. The Distance Is So Big churns out quaint and reflective slacker pop with ease. “Brilliant Dancer” sounds as if it came together in all of 12 minutes; how they move from rolling verse to charging chorus should be celebrated. Perhaps Lemuria have learnt to relax and simply celebrate their talents instead of moving in different directions just for the sake of it. The Distance Is So Big sounds like it came together easily enough, but the band is also propelled by a light-heartedness that works to their advantage.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been” sings Ozzella at the close of the revolving “Paint the Youth”. She’s taking her own advice on The Distance Is So Big and Lemuria is a better band for it.