Given the mercurial nature of Lemuria’s sound, the fact that the group take their name from a mythical lost island continent seems somewhat apt. This third full-length sees the trio as difficult to pin down as their eponymous land mass, kicking off with a brief choral swell before opener proper ‘Brilliant Dancer’ shuffles into view. The twanging first few bars are pure slacker indie, but the track suddenly takes off on an unexpectedly raucous tangent, its skewed rhythm at first appearing utterly at odds with the effervescent pop melodies being played out on the surface. No sooner have you sussed that a brilliant chorus is happening than the timing switches again, the track building to a different, equally great refrain, just once, before stopping abruptly.
Wrong-footing the listener is a trick the Buffalo, NY threesome pull off repeatedly on The Distance is So Big – initially baffling yet beguiling, these songs snag the subconscious and refuse to release their insidious grip, demanding repeated examination as their mysteries gradually reveal themselves. Each track has at its core a perfect pop song, bristling with memorable hooks and dazzling boy/girl vocal trade-offs, but chopped up with angular post-hardcore rhythms and constantly surprising arrangements, equal parts early Weezer and Fugazi. Such is the band’s skill that seemingly incongruous elements suddenly appear natural bedfellows, like ‘Scienceless’s effortless flit between pure, chiming pop and interlocking jazzy instrumental stabs or the way the Pixies-esque ‘Ruby’ blends sweetly-sung vocals with cavernous bottom-end and sinister panting.
‘Paint the Youth’ is remarkable; its three minutes contain components for several viable hit singles, but arranged in a seemingly random collage that makes more and more sense with every spin, until you’re left wondering why the hell more bands don’t write songs this way. With Jawbox/Burning Airlines legend J. Robbins lending his customary production magic to proceedings, the dynamics of the record are flawless; every tiny detail of the group’s impressive interplay is captured, seeds planted in the mix which come into radiant bloom on later listens. Indie- rock needs more records like this. Lee Gorman
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