Album Review: Good Grief – Lucius
Two years ago, I had the treat of seeing Lucius perform live at my university. 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 have just released their second album Good Grief. The album boasts cleaner production, bigger instrumentation, and more danceable hooks. It also marks a shift from the 60’s girl power pop sound of Wildewoman, to a sleek, 80’s 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 aren’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 80’s 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 Laessig and Wolfe’s vocals. The harmonies we’ve come to expect from the duo are still here, 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 on the album. Songs that follow the 80’s 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.
Oddly enough, though, some of my favorite parts of this album were when the band got more experimental with their sound, utilizing static and glitchy synths to contrast with Laessig and Wolfe’s voices. It was an intriguing concept, and I’d love to see the band dig deeper into it. Overall, Good Grief is not a bad album. If anything, it shows that Lucius is still developing their sound. If you enjoy the reemergence of 80’s synth pop that we’ve been seeing over the past few years, you’ll enjoy this album. 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 GHOSTWRITTEN BY KEVIN PARKER OF TAME IMPALA: Something About You, What We Have (To Change), Truce