It's tough sometimes to get a handle on Lord Huron, the western-y alternative rock band led by Ben Schneider. The act's latest full-length, "Strange Trails," includes plenty of enjoyable musical references. For instance, the track "La Belle Fleur Sauvage" has a Luther Perkins-like guitar rhythm driving it, while "Until The Night Turns" finds Schneider singing like a breathless Buddy Holly.
But as good as all these memory triggers are, it's sometimes difficult to comprehend exactly what Schneider is saying. He either doesn't enunciate well enough, or his vocals are buried so deeply in the mix we can't really figure out what he's singing about. It feels good, but it all goes by in a blur, we're left wonder if it's really any more than a feeling.
Song titles give some indication Schneider is enthralled with American myths and legends, with names like "The Yawning Grave" and "Frozen Pines," but these titles are just about as helpful (read: not) as the musical clues provided. So what do we make of an act like Lord Huron? Is it all style over substance, or is there depth down in this deep well - the one where we come just shy of reaching its water? Listening to Lord Huron brings back memories of those first dizzying exposures to REM and Cocteau Twins. With the former, many of us lost interest once we realized Michael Stipe wasn't the lyrical genius his mumble-ness first suggested, whereas the latter will live on as one of the great, beatific musical mysteries. Strange trails, indeed, creating mysteries yet to be solved.