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Lemuria - The Distance Is So Big

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Artist: Lemuria

Album: The Distance Is So Big

Label: Bridge Nine

Review date: Sep. 5, 2013

The Distance is So Big, the latest album from Buffalo’s Lemuria, could well have soundtracked many a drive through central New Jersey in my teenage years. Musically, the first few reference points that come to mind are more than a decade old: Think of the refinement of post-hardcore exemplified by Pretty Girls Make Graves and later-period Q And Not U. Vocalist Sheena Ozzela has an expressive range that puts her somewhere between Velocity Girl’s Sarah Shannon and Meghan Ball of Copper and Idle Hands.

The group’s roots are in hardcore, but this album finds them working within that style to find some new spaces. Ozzela’s voice keens at the beginning of “Briliant Dancer,” resembling nothing so much as a farfisa. Actual keyboards make an appearance later, coming up against vocal harmonies and a deliberate, slow-building tempo. It helps usher in the rest of the album, a proper and powerful introduction to this group’s strengths.

Elsewhere, the vocal give-and-take between Ozzela and drummer Alex Kerns establishes a clean, catchy sound; “Chihuly” in particular sets up a game of one-upmanship, propelling the song into a series of blissful resolutions that hearken back to The Anniversary’s Designing a Nervous Breakdown. And the resolutely catchy “Congratulations Sex” takes a more punctuated approach, resulting in a song with a core that creeps into infectiousness.

The Distance Is So Big doesn’t redefine the genre in which it sits. It’s got big riffs, catchy melodies, and noteworthy vocals. At the same time, this isn’t an album that seeks to redefine anything; rather, it’s a solid album where both songcraft and the estimable loud-quiet-loud dynamic can share the spotlight. This could have been released at any time from the mid-1990s onward -- that it’s appealing to both the 18-year-old me and the 36-year-old me speaks to Lemuria’s ability to bridge generations.

By Tobias Carroll

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