“I’m not saying it’s your fault. This year has been harsh," Lemuria sings on their new album Recreational Hate (Turbo Worldwide). And they’re not wrong. It’s been a tumultuous year for so many of us and somehow — in between the global madness of firearms and saying farewell to some huge heavyweights — we’ve clung on like weather-beaten barnacles. It’s not surprising then that the Buffalo bunch latest record is steeped in reflection.
There’s a strong focus on improving, whether rightly or wrongly. Vocalist Sheena Ozzella bids to “be a better sister” in colossal hook on "Sliver of Change" (good luck trying to dull that down for the next few weeks), which captures those all-consuming anxieties as we’re all told to knock out a new "you."
But that’s the thing about a band like Lemuria. Of course, there has been change. The band has come a long way since their humble beginnings on the landing of an apartment stairway above Buffalo diner Amy’s Place. But 15 years of touring, four albums, and a recent 10th-anniversary release and tour has cemented this band as a titan of solid riff writing and blissful melodies.
"More Tunnel" artfully demonstrates that knack, crashing in like a Weezer great (a nod to production duties from Chris Shaw) with cyclical frustrations deep in the melody: "Closer I get, less I see." Standout track "Christine Perfect" awakens the anxieties again: “I can’t relate and I feel guilty” plays out over seven or eight syllables with a Cramps-style shudder. But it’s not all misery in the mire. The track also awakens hope and faith in humanity as Ozzella blasts, "You make me a better living person."
Western sparks fly in "Kicking In" with some serious steel guitar, but the middle-America road trip stretches a bit too far in the timid "Lake Below" and "Trembling Leaf," which hang a little stark. Warmth resumes with "Marigold," a shimmering ode to selfless love: “Just because she’s sad to see me go, doesn’t mean she isn’t happy. She gives me everything without ceremony."
Recreational Hate is a release that shouldn’t be without ceremony. For a band who built up their following in sweaty dive bars teaming with punk fans, it grapples earnestly with issues they’re no doubt feeling now too. Vocalist/drummer Alex Kerns sums it up succinctly in album closer, "Best Extra." We’re all just "searching for humanity." And we’re all trying really, really hard.
photo courtesy Lemuria
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Part-time guitarist and full time feminist, Cheri Amour is Deputy Editor of The Girls Are; an online and print magazine showcasing the best and brightest women musicians from across the globe. You'll find her words scattered across the likes of The Guardian and Under The Influence. Cheri is also part of The Other Woman collective hosting a monthly new music show on Resonance FM. Follow her on Twitter @thedivinehammer.