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It’s been four years since the Lumineers released their self-titled debut album, anchored by the double-platinum feel-good anthem “Ho Hey.” Colorado has added nearly half a million people since then. Weed’s now legal. Hell, reality TV stars have become presidential candidates during that span of time. But finally, on April 8, the band will release its sophomore album, Cleopatra (Dualtone Records). Why such a long wait? It’s not as if the Denver-based musicians—(pictured from left) Neyla Pekarek, Jeremiah Fraites, and Wesley Schultz—were just sitting around sipping coffee in their Wash Park rental house, trying to concoct new lyrics. Oh wait, that’s exactly what they were doing. But first, the Lumineers toured relentlessly from 2012 to 2014 (nearly 300 days in 2013); then they spent the first six months of 2015 holed up in one of our favorite ’hoods writing 11 new folk-rock tracks.
There’s no jangly, tambourine-laden “Ho Hey” tune this time around. Instead, the album is filled with more mature songs and deeper storytelling, including the title track, which recounts the tale of a woman getting a marriage proposal at her father’s funeral, and the introspective and tenderhearted first single, “Ophelia.” The new record is a reflection of life after what Pekarek calls a “lucky success.” “We went through major changes as people after the first album,” she says. “There was an innocence in the first one.” Coloradans, for their part, seem eager to hear those changes: Months before the new record hit the iTunes store, the band’s two-night stint at Red Rocks (June 7 and 8) sold out to fans hungry for the onetime Front Range buskers to return home from the first leg of their European tour. Welcome back, Lumineers.