Photo: Pamela Littky / Courtesy of the artist

Folk Rockers Lord Huron Get a Bit Experimental on ‘Vide Noir’

Lord Huron's Vide Noir is an imaginative album that magnificently takes listeners into new musical landscapes.

Vide Noir
Lord Huron
Republic / Whispering Pines
20 April 2018

Vide Noir sounds more experimental than previous Lord Huron albums, which is in part from working with Dave Fridmann who also collaborated with the Flaming Lips and MGMT. Or this album is representational of Lord Huron’s creative magnitude. Regardless, Vide Noir is an imaginative album that magnificently takes listeners into new musical landscapes.

The opening track “Lost in Time and Space” incorporates phantasmagorical energy that carries throughout the album. The track begins with ephemeral instrumentation that’s interrupted by Schneider’s telltale vocals reminding listeners of the Lonesome Dreams’ track “Time to Run”. The lyrics, “I don’t know who I am, I am don’t know where I am”, are slightly distorted when sang, which creates a sense of dream-like confusion while submerging listeners into a “galaxy of cocktail bars”. The album’s inspiration came from Schneider’s late night drives around Los Angeles. The quietude of the night and meditative dreamscapes are musically apparent throughout the album but especially in “Lost in Time and Space” in addition to “When the Night Is Over” and “Moonbeam”.

Throughout Vide Noir, Lord Huron uses electronic instruments that cast a voltaic intensity. “Never Ever” features what sounds to be a theremin, an instrument that produces sound by amplifying electric signals. The track begins with a grumbling guitar creating an unequivocal rock and roll energy. Then the theremin carries over the apparational theme from “Lost in Time and Space”. A Mellotron, a polyphonic keyboard probably most prominently featured in the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” introduces “Ancient Names (Part I)”. “Ancient Names (Part II)” evokes a garage band sound due to the use of a Farfisa organ, which completely changes the tone of the album and what listeners expect from Lord Huron.

However the transition from chimeric ambiance to “Ancient Names (Part I)” and “Ancient Names (Part II)” makes the album feel slightly disjointed. The first several tracks share a variation of a theme that is disrupted by “Ancient Names (Part I)” and “Ancient Names (Part II)”. Specifically “Part II”‘s cacophony feels mismatched when compared to the flow of the entire album. The dreamscapes reemerge on the next track “Wait by the River” then continues throughout the duration of the album. “Ancient Names (Part I)” and “Ancient Names (Part II)” are quality songs but break up the album’s cadence and forcefully pulls the listeners out of the experience. Listen for yourself. Ahead of the record’s release, Lord Huron released “Ancient Names (Part I)” and “Ancient Names (Part II).”

Vide Noir is more introspective than previous albums. In “The Balancer’s Eye” Schneider asks “tell me how does a man change the universe?” While in the opening track, Schneider repeats “I don’t know who I am, I don’t know where I am.” The self-reflection is the result of Schneider’s night drives where there is not much else to do than examine one’s consciousness. Vide Noir lacks the pop-fueled-pining-for-love heard in previous singles such “Fool For Love” from the critically acclaimed 2015 album Strange Trails. But that’s ok! The experimental divergence demonstrates the band’s musical versatility and creative strengths.

Lord Huron throws listeners into the Vide Noir with their new album. In continuation, the band intends on making Vide Noir into a multimedia and multisensory experience, which will fully immerse listeners into the music thereby truly evoking the sense of dreaminess. Vide Noir is a departure from Lord Huron’s alternative-folk sound, and in doing so, the band created an innovative record and musical experience.

RATING 7 / 10