Reviewed by Kendall A. Bell
O n the follow up to 2013’s “Wildewoman”, Brooklyn based quintet Lucius stay within the framework of their previous efforts, but with bigger production. While “Wildewoman” focused primarily on the sublime tandem vocals of lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, “Good Grief” has a little more musical gloss. It doesn’t deter from the quality of the music, however. Wolfe and Laessig’s writing remains sharp and clever; and multi-instrumentalists Dan Molad, Andrew Burri and Pete Lalish provide a gorgeous backdrop. There is more of an 80’s feel to some of the production and effects, but much of the songs actually carry a Phil Spector-ish, Wall of Sound sort of feel, which suits the band well. The lead single, “Born Again Teen”, is an odd, yet catchy song that could seem standoffish at first, but becomes more and more endearing with each listen. Other songs that rely heavily on production include the soaring lead track, “Madness” and the 80’s synth riding “Something About You” (no, not the Level 42 song), as well as the somewhat spooky “Gone Insane”, where Wolfe and Laessig’s vocals culminate to a screaming match at the end. As always, it’s the vocals of Wolfe and Laessig that are the real attraction (not to detract from the three extremely talented men in the band, or the fact that Wolfe and Laessig also play multiple instruments), and the best songs on “Good Grief” highlight how seamlessly their vocals blend. “What We Have(To Change)” soars into the stratosphere with a fantastic chorus that wouldn’t be out of place in a 60’s R&B or pop song. The best track, “My Heart Got Caught On Your Sleeve”, is a power ballad with riveting vocal moments built around lyrics of heartbreak like:
Smoked another cigarette cause even though I quit
I’ll do about just anything to pacify my own torment
The moon is full and I can hear him laughing
As he plays these tricks on me
Almost like he’s cheering on my dueling joy and agony.
The album closes with a comforting and familiar sound on the lovely, “Dusty Trails”.
Anyone looking for a “Wildewoman” redo will be a tad disappointed with “Good Grief”, but those willing to see how a talented band can both evolve and stay relevant should look no further than Lucius. This is a band that has paid its dues and is on the cusp of well deserved fame.