Lemuria - Get Better
Record Label: Asian Man Records
Release Date: February 26, 2008
Lemuria take their name from a hypothetical continent that, according to legend, sank into the Indian Ocean in ancient times, similar to mythical “lost continent” of Atlantis. Despite the fantastic nature of the band’s namesake, their music would best be described as very real and organic. Lemuria’s brand of folky indie-rock may make for an unusual release for Asian Man Records, but it’s a worthy one, nonetheless.
Lemuria feature two vocalists, Sheena Ozzella (who also plays guitar) and Alex Kearns (who also plays drums). Ozzella takes the lead on most of the tracks, but Kearns is front-and-center on “Yesterday’s Lunch,” “Wardrobe,” and “Hawaiian T-Shirt.” At first, the vocals sound a little flat and perhaps lacking in expression, but they eventually become a very endearing quality. Ozzella is at her best on tracks like “Dog,” where she sounds a bit like Jolie Lindholm (the Rocking Horse Winner). At the more understated moments, her voice has a tone similar to Jenny Lewis, which works extremely well on tracks like “Buzz.” Kerns’ vocals are pretty nondescript, but he performs ably on lead and backing vocal.
The songs’ lyrics tend to be on the wistful side, dealing heavily with lost love, which is nothing unique, but Lemuria thankfully don’t venture too much into clichéd territory. The touching “Wardrobe” finds Kerns sorting through clothes and other possessions left behind by someone who has apparently passed away. Such a song could have been overwrought and melodramatic. However, it’s kept simple and pensive, with Ozzella’s backing vocal injecting just the right amount of emotion. On the following track, “Length Away,” Ozzella faces a relationship dilemma: “I’m miserable with you. I’m more miserable without you.” There is a simple innocence in her delivery that makes the song sound earnest and genuine.
Musically, Lemuria tend toward melodic rock with just a touch of guitar crunch, in the vein of the Lemonheads. At their peppier moments, the guitars evoke Dear You-era Jawbreaker and at their moodiest, Diary-era Sunny Day Real Estate. A roots-rock vibe pervades many of the tracks, and some of them, especially “Wardrobe” possess a twang not unlike the Weakerthans. The slide guitar in “Length Away” would have fit in on Hot Rod Circuit’s The Underground Is a Dying Breed. It’s all well performed and the production on the record allowed the guitars to retain a raw sound which suits the style of music well.
Clocking in at under thirty minutes, Get Better feels almost like an EP. On the plus-side, it’s succinct and consistently good. Although there are no attention-getting standout tracks, the album as a whole is a satisfying listen. All in all, it’s the type of album that many will find enjoyable but few would list among their top albums.