Ranked: The Lumineers Albums


Photo of The Lumineers band. Photo by NPR

Whether someone knows the name of their songs or not, The Lumineers’ music has permeated radio stations, Spotify, and Apple Music.

It all started in the early 2000s when pianist Jeremiah Fraites and vocalist Wesley Shultz decided to jump into the music industry. They began to write music and perform together in New Jersey in 2005, but were forced to leave town and head to Colorado due to the cost of living. After settling down in Denver, the duo officially adopted the name “The Lumineers” in 2009.

As they gained steady attention as an up-and-coming band, the group decided to drop their first studio album called “The Lumineers” in 2012. This ultimately launched them to fame as their hit song, “Ho Hey,” worked its way up to number 3 on the Billboard’s Hot 100. Since then, The Lumineers have released 3 studio albums: Cleopatra (2016), III (2019), and BRIGHTSIDE (2022). Through these achievements, this indie-folk band has become one of the top in the genre today.

With four studio albums dropped so far, it makes one wonder which album is better than the other. So, it is my goal to rank these albums from best to worst based on the quality of their sound and the lyrics in their songs.


1. Cleopatra (2016)

Photo by Spotify

The Lumineers’ second studio album, Cleopatra, earns its place as number one among the four albums containing fifteen songs. Coming off success and fame with their first album, the band was able to hone in their unique sound in the world of indie-folk. With “Ophelia” being the album’s most well-known and played song, it’s hard not to want to listen to the rest of the album. The album is full of feelings of longing and love with a slow tempo undertone. To add to this, Wesley Shultz’s guitar and crisp vocals add to the greatness of the album. “Cleopatra,” “Angela,” and “In the Light” express the band’s more uplifting and love-filled songs which contrast the longing sounds of “Gale Song,” “Long Way from Home,” and “Sleep on the Floor.” Through the dynamic lyrics and melodies of this sophomore album, Cleopatra is number one.


2. The Lumineers (2012)

Photo by Spotify

“The Lumineers” secures second place in the lineup of albums as it was the first album that came out with eleven songs. Playing in Colorado and places around the country leading up to its release, The Lumineers were able to find their distinctive sound as an indie-folk band. The album is filled with easily sung choruses with catchy lyrics. The acoustic echo in most of the songs gives the listener an impression that they are in the studio where they are recorded. Along with this, there is an uplifting tone to most of the songs including “Flowers in Your Hair,” “Ho Hey,” “Big Parade,” “Flapper Girl,” “Dead Sea,” and “Submarine.” In contrast to these uplifting songs come a few retrospective songs such as “Charlie Boy,” “Morning Song,” and “Slow it Down.” Filled with lyrical stories and dynamic melodies, “The Lumineers,” lands in second place.


3. III (2019)

Photo by Spotify

The Lumineers third studio album aptly named “III,” lands in third place with thirteen songs in it. The album is set up to tell a story about the fictional “Sparks” family’s struggles and consists of three chapters with three to four songs in them. “III” explores more of the painful realities of some people’s lives including addiction, heartache, and loss, while also throwing in some more hope-filled songs. “Donna” starts the album in a dreary way with a slow piano melody and bleak lyrics. Unlike the first song, “Life in the City” and “Gloria” kick off with upbeat melodies accompanied by the piano, drums, and guitar. “Salt and the Sea” ends the album with Wesley Shultz’s voice punching through the guitar playing in the background and brings closure to the story of the “Sparks” family. Overall, the album places third due because compared to “The Lumineers” and “Cleopatra,” the songs aren’t as dynamic and it doesn’t have as much to give. Still, “III” is an album worth listening to.


4. BRIGHTSIDE (2022)

Photo by Spotify

“BRIGHTSIDE,” recently released in February of this year, places fourth in the lineup of the studio albums containing 9 songs. This album produces a heartfelt and cheery vibe, unlike “III’s” more ominous feel. The song, “BRIGHTSIDE,” kicks off the album with heavy drums and an electric guitar to set the tone for the upbeat feel for the rest of the album. This vibe of this song flows into “WHERE WE ARE” in the middle of the album to keep the upbeat feel going. But, to fill in the spaces between, “A.M. RADIO,” “BIG SHOT,” “ROLLER COASTER,” “REMINGTON,” and “REPRISE” provide introspective but hopeful melodies and lyrics. The vocals in the album as a whole are a bit rougher around the edges but still provide the signature Lumineers sound fans know and love.