This week's "Paul's Pick" album review
By Paul Jacobson | Echo
Two years ago, Taylor students had the treat of seeing Lucius perform live in the Union. To this day, that show remains one of my favorite concerts I’ve been to. The band brought to life songs that I already adored, and somehow made me love them even more.
Smash cut to March 2016, where Lucius has just released its second album, “Good Grief.” The album boasts cleaner production, bigger instrumentation and more danceable hooks. It also marks a shift from the ’60s girl power pop sound of “Wildewoman,” to a sleek, ’80s synth-pop sound that has seen a reemergence recently. It isn’t a bad shift, it just doesn’t feel like a necessary one.
Lucius isn’t doing anything new or ground-breaking with this album. Granted, they weren’t doing anything new with “Wildewoman,” but that album sounded different from other current pop outfits. “Good Grief” just sounds like a retread of Taylor Swift’s “1989,” Ra Ra Riot’s “Need Your Light,” Carly Rae Jepson’s “Emotion,” and Tame Impala’s “Currents,” just to rattle off a few. And even those albums were retreads of other ’80s pop groups.
That isn’t to say the tired sound ruins the album. There are plenty of earworms and good tracks on here; however, there’s less emphasis on Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe’s vocals. The harmonies we’ve come to expect from the duo are still there, but they’re relegated to the background in the mixing of some of the tracks. One song that doesn’t put the gals on the backburner is “My Heart Got Caught On Your Sleeve,” a piano ballad somewhat reminiscent of an Adele track. There’s a portion where Laessig and Wolfe belt out “I am lost in my own home” that sent chills down my spine.
The tracks themselves are a mixed bag for me. Songs like “What We Have (To Change)” and “Dusty Trails” sound like Wildewoman b-sides and are, along with “Something About You” and “Better Look Back,” highlights of the album. Songs that follow the ’80s pop formula, like “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain” and “Truce,” fall flat. The former boasts an incredibly bouncy beat, but it’s almost to the point of pastiche and feels out of place on the album. The latter is about as bland as bland can get with the melody and instrumentation, making the song feel lifeless. Lead single “Born Again Teen” is the black sheep of the album, though. While the verses are very catchy and upbeat, the chorus is unbelievably irritating.
Overall, “Good Grief” is not a bad album. If anything, it shows that Lucius is still developing its sound. If you enjoy the reemergence of ’80s synth pop that we’ve seen over the past few years, you’ll enjoy this album. But if you adored “Wildewoman” and expect a similar, yet bolder, sound, you’ll be disappointed.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Something About You, What We Have (To Change), Dusty Trails
LEAST FAVORITE TRACKS: Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain, Truce, Almighty Gosh, Born Again Teen
TRACKS MOST LIKELY GHOST WRITTEN BY KEVIN PARKER OF TAME IMPALA: Something About You, What We Have (To Change), Truce