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Strumbellas - Hope - lp -

Price per Unit (stuk): €25.95


The Strumbellas have perfected a story arc that’s summed up in the title of their new album, “Hope.” Each song begins with a confession of flaws and fears: “I know it gets harder every single day/I know my darkness might never go away,” Simon Ward sings at the start of “We Don’t Know.” Then the band cues up a folksy, foot-stamping tune that builds momentum all the way up to a huge, happy singalong chorus — which might turn out to be the same confession recast as an affirmation. Mr. Ward’s voice often starts out nearly alone, scratchy and shaky; by the end of the song, he’s leading a multitude. It’s an arc of reassurance through community, a promise that we can get through this together. It’s as good-hearted as all get-out.

It’s also, for United States listeners, suspiciously similar to the approach of the Lumineers in their folksy, foot-stamping 2012 hit “Ho Hey.” But that may be a matter of national borders. The Strumbellas are from Canada, and released their debut EP in 2009, two years before the Lumineers’ debut. “Hope” is their third album; their second, “We Still Move on Dance Floors” from 2013, won a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) for roots and traditional album of the year. Both the Strumbellas and the Lumineers were part of the same surge of retooled, pop-savvy folk-rock.

Although Mr. Ward proclaims, “I put a banjo up into the sky/It keeps us moving,” in “Shovels and Dirt,” and the band’s six-member lineup includes a fiddle, the Strumbellas don’t confine themselves to “roots and traditional” sounds on “Hope.” Chimes, an orchestra and massed voices arrive almost immediately in “Spirits,” the album’s first single, which declares, “I don’t want a never-ending life/I just want to be alive while I’m here.” Elsewhere there are echoes of the E Street Band’s sustained synthesizers and arena-scale marches.

Between the giant, smiley singalongs, there’s a little more darkness than the band’s sound suggests. The verses grapple with impulses toward destruction and self-destruction. “If I weren’t so selfish/I could hear your calls for help,” Mr. Ward sings in “I Still Make Her Cry.” But it’s rarely long before another huge chorus arrives to banish all misgivings.

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