Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig are not your usual pop stars. With matching outfits and hairstyles that change day to day, and a single standing microphone shared between the two, they are one of the most unique pop bands touring today. The harmonizing duo, along with three (also matching) musicians form the band Lucius. Following up on their alt-pop beauty of a debut, “Wildewoman,” the band has released “Good Grief,” out March 11th on Mom+Pop Records.
Where “Wildewoman” covered a various range of topics, “Good Grief” feels much more focused. 2014 and 2015 involved non-stop touring for the band, including stops at Nelsonville Music Fest and Charleston’s own Mountain Stage. It’s clear that the constant touring affected these ladies in many ways. Songs like “Gone Insane” and “Better Look Back” seem to show the rougher side of being on a constant road trip. Questioning personal relationships and life choices are a consistent theme on the album.
Some of the songs on “Good Grief” could easily be placed at the top of the mid-80s Billboard charts. “Something About You,” “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain,” and “Almighty Gosh” have huge layers of synthesizers and guitars with tons of effects. I personally am not a fan of most synth-pop, but the hooks on this album are so huge, you can’t help but love them. “What We Have (To Change)” is a real highlight, with an earworm of a chorus that will haunt you for days. This seems to be the band’s specialty. Even at times where the lyrics may falter, the hook is so good, that it doesn’t matter.
This album is a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally. The tracks are spaced out evenly, with the upbeat tunes usually coming immediately after the deeper and slower-paced songs. There is no constant mood. Picking one song to display feels like cheating the band and the listener. These ladies do many things, and they do all of them incredibly well. I have been a fan since the debut, and I’ll admit, I was disappointed with the first single, “Born Again Teen,” but again, to pick one song from a band this unique is a disservice to everyone involved.
That being said, the absolute show-stopper of this album is the closing track, “Dusty Trails.” This song displays the writing and performing abilities of Jess and Holly. A fairly quiet track leaves plenty of room for the duo to show off their mind-blowing skills. This song is definitely on my early list for best track of the year.
My favorite thing about Lucius is their ability to perform songs live. As a musician, I’m always critical of a band’s live performance, and I can say with absolute confidence that Lucius is one of the best live bands around. Dan, Peter, and Andrew use combinations of guitar pedals, synths, and drum pads to put on an outstanding performance that captures the essence of the album, while adding some special touches. Some bands use studio tricks to make vocals sound larger on a record, but with Jess and Holly sharing vocal duties at all times, the live shows are missing absolutely nothing.
This album grows on you. It rewards you for sticking around, and listening repeatedly. It manages to keep the layers interesting, while displaying the harmony-soaked hooks in every song. Go listen to “Good Grief” now, and pick up tickets to see Lucius at Mountain Stage on June 26th. You won’t be disappointed.