Set for release this Friday, 13 September, ‘III’ by The Lumineers, is not just their third long player, but it’s also a concept album divided into 3 parts, focusing on the fictional Sparks family, Gloria, Junior, and Jimmy.
Right from the start you get the feeling that this isn’t a family you’d get on with straight away. They’re hard, embittered, and have issues that aren’t just their own but have come from generations of addiction and hard times. ‘III’ pulls no punches in telling their story.
Gloria is the daughter of an alcoholic, and although she tries, she doesn’t manage to fall too far from the tree. It’s essential to get it straight from the start – it’s a hard album to listen to. It’s about a family cycle of addiction, and at no point does it seem possible that they are able to break it. Donna, the title character from the lead track, is, we presume, Gloria’s mother. She is hypocritical, “judging strangers’ karma” yet unable to “sober up enough to hold a baby”. Gloria follows through with this pattern, as seen in the accompanying music video, where she drinks to the point of collapse and hospitalisation, and later involves her husband in a car accident. Further along, in ‘Leader Of The Landslide’, her son Junior is caught up in this cycle, watching his mother drink herself to death; he has to raise himself,
“All I ever wanted was a mother for the first time”
Junior, and in turn, Jimmy, both fall into the alcoholism cycle, and it all becomes way too depressing. It’s a beautiful album – there’s no doubt about that – and it’s been put together beautifully as well, so much so that it’s just so hard to believe these aren’t real people, sadness and despair fills every corner of the record. Jimmy adds gambling to his list of addictions, before eventually succumbing to his own death at 3am barefoot in the snow. He himself has a son of his own, whose name we’re never told – but you just know he too is going to seek solace in a bottle.
‘III’, despite its harrowing subject matter, is pretty damned near perfect musically and Wesley Schultz’s drawling vocals are as classy as ever. It definitely won’t disappoint fans, and it’s bound to get just as much radio play and other media placement as their other albums.
‘III’ by the Lumineers is out on Friday September 13 through Decca. The Lumineers have also announced a worldwide tour, with the following UK and Irish dates:
November 22 The SSE Hydro Glasgow, UK
November 24 Manchester Arena Manchester, UK
November 27 The O2 London, UK
November 29 3Arena Dublin, Ireland