Quite a few “local” bands from the WNY region have put out quality releases in the past couple of years, but none have made quite the ripple outside the area as Lemuria, and with good reason. Their best songs sound like something that would have come out of Boston circa ’92 – shades of Juliana Hatfield and Taang-era Lemonheads mixed with a soupcon of Pixies. Not necessarily an extension of this aesthetic, but more a sidestep, “The Distance Is So Big” sounds brighter and airier, and slightly less-consequential. Co-vocalists Sheena Ozzella and Alex Kerns are a bit smoother this time out – gone are the clear as a bell clarion calls that Ozzella displayed on their early albums and singles, and that’s kind of a shame. She is still an amazing singer (and certainly can sing circles around Kerns, whose range can be charitably described as “limited”), but she never really lets it off the leash. In fact, most of the songs here are simply pleasant and sound under produced.
The addition of some keyboards and percussion to the mix has the strange quality of making the songs seem even tinier. Where previous songs had a taut tension to them, these just kind of amble. The melodies and lyrics aren’t bad, they’re just not memorable. The standout is album centerpiece “Chihuly”, which could be an “It’s a Shame About Ray” outtake. Ozzella and Kerns’ vocals ping-pong atop the guitar jangle and it is simply divine; I wish there were more simple yet effective moments like this. The back half of the album is actually stronger, and there are a couple of gems like “Congratulations Sex” that would sit nicely next to past triumphs like “Mechanical” and “Pleaser”, but overall it’s just middle of the pack indie rock. Disappointing.