Review: Harry and the Potters Get Political with “Lumos”
Wizard rock pioneers Harry and the Potters are back. On June 21, the band will release its first full-length album in 13 years, Lumos. The LP features 16 songs sung through the perspective of Harry Potter himself during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Fans of Harry and the Potters are sure to love this addition to their discography. While Lumos maintains the playful energy of past Harry and the Potters records, it is also daringly political. It turns out there are plenty of similarities between the political landscapes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and modern-day America. Not only is the band up front in naming these similarities, but they are also fired up about them.
The title track of the album isn’t necessarily a Harry Potter song. It’s a universal call to arms. The band sets a powerful tone for the record with a quote from Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel: “We must speak. We must take sides. For neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” The moral of the album is clear: When human rights violations are happening, everyone plays a part in turning the wheel toward justice and light. “Lumos” is a coming-of-age song for the trio in the context of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It serves as a strong opener, and it builds with the same sense of urgency present in the first few chapters of the final book.
As I listened to the album, I was reminded of Potterwatch. This pirate radio program broadcasted the truth about the injustices happening during the Second Wizarding War to the resistance movement in hiding. In a way, the political message in Lumos does the same, and the Harry Potter fans become the resistance. The band uses the metaphor of Muggle-born persecution to make an anti-racist statement in “No Pureblood Supremacy.” “On the Importance of Media Literacy Under Authoritarian Rule” criticizes dishonest media outlets and incomplete narratives that protect politicians. They even dedicate a song to the evils of Albert Runcorn, a persecutor of Muggle-borns. It’s not all downers and hard truths, however. The funkiest track on the album is dedicated to everyone’s favorite activist, Hermione Granger. The track “Hermione’s Army” is incredibly catchy, and it features a ridiculously sick saxophone breakdown. You can watch the lyric video for “Hermione’s Army” below.
Harry and the Potters have a knack for reimagining iconic moments in the series in their music. The album is totally uninhibited and genre-less, but that is what makes it so fun. The banjo tune “Gone Campin'” turns the trio’s suffer-fest in the woods into a jangly campfire song. “The Sword, the Cup, and the Dragon” is a power metal parody that chronicles the break-in at Gringotts. Plus, they brought in Kimya Dawson from the Moldy Peaches to sing the part of Hermione in the epic, ’80s-style ballad “Where’s Ron?” The band teamed up with Neil Cicierega of Potter Puppet Pals for the track’s music video, and it might be too awesome for us to put into words.
The final three tracks honor the Deathly Hallows themselves. Gang vocals and keyboard solos in “The Cloak” make a pop punk love song for Harry’s favorite tool against evil. “The Stone” is an eerie yet beautiful ode to Harry’s decision to face Voldemort’s Killing Curse in the Forest. (Spoiler alert: The end of this song will probably rip your heart out and shatter it into a million pieces.) Finally, “The Wand” reminds us of the simple tool Harry used to save the day: love. (And if we’re getting technical, the Disarming Charm.)
Lumos is out June 21. Harry and the Potters will be playing their new jams at libraries all across the United States. Check out their list of tour dates here.
As founders of Harry and the Potters, Joe and Paul DeGeorge became front-runners for a new genre of Potter-themed music in the early 2000s. Bands like these are keeping punk ideology alive. The messages in Lumos criticize a political administration that is apathetic to violations of human rights, mass media bias and misinformation, and government surveillance. When a bunch of fans come together, incredible things can happen.