Lord Huron is an American indie band based in Los Angeles. The band takes its name after Lake Huron, where Michigan-born front man Ben Schneider would spend evenings playing music around the campfire.
Vide Noir was released on April 20, 2018. It arrives from Whispering Pines/Republic Records (a new arrangement for the band, whose previous two albums were released by indie label IAMSOUND).
The other members of the quartet are Tom Renaud (guitar), Miguel Briseno (bass, keyboards) and Mark Barry (drums).
Most of the album has a garage rock feeling.
That’s perfectly exemplified in like “Never Ever”, “Ancient Names” and “The Balancer’s Eye”. But there is more to the record: the opening track “Lost in Time and Space” is a pastoral hymn to love and loss. “Wait by the River” is a prom-like slow waltz. “When the Night is Over” is a ballad with a bluesy touch, and “Secret of Life’ is a psychedelic frill. The band certainly shows a slight change in sound compared to previous releases. The guitar sound is distorted and fuzzy instead of acoustic, and the whole album is very bass and drums-heavy.
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Despite the above mentioned differences that characterize each song, Lord Huron still manages to achieve thematic unity with this record.
The whole album has a nightly feel to it. However, Vide Noir’s night is not a night of romance and stargazing, it’s spooky, haunted, a hymn to all the tormented souls out there. Vide Noir’s night is gloomy, it’s murky. Vide Noir is like a nighttime drive downtown, under the pouring rain, no souls in sight, with only distant noises of sirens and neon lights flashing in the background. The lead singer himself explained that the inspiration for the album came from his Los Angeles night drives – across the twinkling grid of the valley, into the creeping shadows of the foothills, through downtown’s neon canyons and way out to the dark edges of the ocean.
The title of the album itself suggests a thematic darkness.
Vide Noir is the French for black void, a void from which the music and the lyrics never get free. There is no lyrical or musical escape from the darkness of the void. Prisoner of the void, Ben Schneider defeatedly sings of heartbreak and sorrow: in “Lost in Time and Space,” he cries out:
I guess she’s gone for good.
She don’t call me like I thought she would.
She went west to chase her dreams.
She took my money but she didn’t take me.
In “Wait by the River” he sings
If we can’t be together
what’s the point of life?
It’s the final track that perhaps best describes the pessimism that pervades the whole album, when Schneider sings,
Way out here in the void
is the loneliest place to die
when everything you loved is a lie.
The presence of a never-ending darkness certainly marks a change in the band’s thematics. Because the change, as mentioned above, isn’t just musical, with the introduction of fuzzed out guitars and bass and drums-heavy compositions; Lord Huron changes conceptually.
If you were already a fan before the release of Vide Noir, you might remember the cowboy poet of Lonesome Dreams, where the night was about stargazing and the atmosphere, didn’t feel as eerie. You might also recall how Lord Huron ventured into a darker territory by portraying the betrayed lover’s heart in Strange Trails.
And now, here we are, trapped in a black void of emptiness, sorrow and heartbreak; unlike the previous releases, this black empty space is harder to romanticize – harder to escape from.
Vide Noir is a grim and fatalistic listening experience which offers no possibility of referring to more comforting impressions.
Because this time there are no colors to tint the record, and the agonizing soul of our lonesome traveler.
Only the cover art offers some green neon-like paint, but still the background is black.
So this is Lord Huron’s latest release: nighttime lonesome drives, darkness, a lot of it, and heartbreak, a lot of it, all filtered through fuzzy guitar music and cosmic ballads and hymns. In Vide Noir, Lord Huron appear to be in their bleakest mood yet.
It took me a while to write this review. It’s now three in the morning. I put on the record and press play. I suddenly feel lost in time and space, I don’t know who I am and I don’t know where I am…thoughts are spinning round and round…I raise up my head and stare at the emerald star, its radiance blends with the neon lights of the city, it’s pouring, sirens ring in the distance, I now feel my heart slowly breaking, shattering into pieces, I am a lonesome traveler, a prisoner of the void.
Vide Noir. It’s a wormwood, and much more.
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