I’d like to start off by admitting that I completely missed the boat with this band a few months ago. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to accomplish that, given the massive, CHVRCHES-esque hype that apparently surrounded their full-length debut, but it seems I’m more oblivious than I originally thought. So it goes.
With that out of the way, then, let’s talk about Lucius. The Brooklyn five-piece released their first LP, Wildewoman, at the end of 2013, and have since found a comfortable little niche at the “accessible-but-nonetheless-interesting” end of the musical spectrum. Led by frontwomen Jess Wolf and Holly Laessig, their sound is defined by intense, exuberant vocals and impressively diverse instrumentation. Some elements are reminiscent of fellow female duo School of Seven Bells or two-hit wonders Blondfire, but neither comparison really does the group justice. They’re catchy, energetic, and they know how to reimagine stylistic tropes in a way that makes them feel new again.
They’re not exactly going to knock your socks off with innovation, but at the same time, no two tracks on Wildewoman sound very much alike. You get percussion-driven dance pop (“Turn it Around”), folk (“The Two of Us on the Run”), cloud-parting ballads (“How Loud Your Heart Gets”), tambourine-happy chamber pop (“Hey, Doreen”), and even some palpable country influence (“Go Home” and "Wildewoman"). On my first listen, I kept waiting for the boring, deep cuts that we’re all used to hearing between great singles, but they never came. Every song was surprising.
This album is a great example of the Blitzen Trapper school of songwriting. They cover a frankly astonishing variety of genres, but each one is so well executed that it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. Every track introduces something new while carrying on a consistent and recognizable style, so the album as a whole remains cohesive. And, perhaps most importantly, it never feels like they were just being eclectic because they ran out of ideas. I’m willing to bet that Lucius is far from exhausting its creative coffers.
I want to mention one song in particular that stood out to me, called “Nothing Ordinary.” I don’t have anything particularly profound to say about it, but it completely and utterly kicks ass. The heavy, almost martial percussion, alternately sparse and driving guitar lines, and absolutely belted vocals by Wolf and Laessig come together to make this one of the most powerful tracks I’ve heard in years. Its energy is contagious, leading even my most jaded compatriots to let slip an expletive or two at the first chorus.
I know an effusive gush-fest (and a belated one at that) doesn’t exactly make for the most riveting music review in history, but I honestly have almost nothing negative to say about this album. It’s consistent without getting stale, diverse without feeling disjointed, and accessible without being uninteresting. I can’t recommend it enough.