The Tempo: Good Grief


Used with permission from Levi Manchak via Flikr

The two lead singers, Jess Wolfe (pictured left) and Holly Laessig (pictured right), always match down to hair styles and sunglasses in a retro chic fashion. They share a microphone and fashion on stage to represent the unity of the vocals.

On Friday, March 11th, the Brooklyn-based indie pop group, Lucius, released their second studio album, titled Good Grief. Their second album provides a tremendous leap in production, and overall life. I’ve had the privilege to see Lucius perform, and their vocals and musicality do not disappoint, so I’m excited to see where this album takes them. This album has a melodramatic ebb and flow – going from indie pop melodies and theatrical ballads, to crazy indie rock jams. The production is astonishing; every song is slightly different, whether it be from the different instruments, vocal effects, or synthesizers.

The opening song, “Madness”, opens simply with the two vocalists, who are the powerhouses of their album and live performances, then cinematic elements are slowly added, along with a backbone beat. It foreshadows the song “Gone Insane”, which I am astonished every single time I listen to it. The song is a realization, as the bridge repeats “I can be the one who’s gone insane” and the vocals seem to ascend from the rhythmic line as it feels as if the vocalists are going insane with an angry belt/cry. It isn’t expected, for the song initially feels like a indie pop song that emulates the group Haim. As the vocals go off the rails, the rhythm remains constant, so although it could feel messy it seems like an amazing artistic choice, that continues to give me chills.

The first half of the album appears to have a cohesive story of the trials and tribulations of love. It has it’s highs, and sometimes it’s painful lows, which are emulated through one of my favorite songs, “My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve”. In the previous song, there is lively desperation that emulates Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High”. The transition to this heartfelt ballad begins with simple piano chords and a softer vocal tone. It almost feels like some high school students gathering to write a song, but slowly vocal affects, cinematic instruments, and altered chord progressions transform the song into a raw emotional ebb and flow that is entrancing. The chorus seems to have the most perfect melody and chord progression with it’s repeated lyrics:

“My heart got caught on your sleeve, please give it back to me.”

The beauty continues through the bridge, that starts at a softer dynamic, then slowly rises into a powerhouse of skyrocketing and emotional vocals, as some of the most powerful lyrics I’ve ever heard are repeated. They are simply:

“I got lost in my own home.”

Every single time I hear this song, I get a new sensation. The simple stripped down quality of this song makes it the perfect heartbroken ballad. It doesn’t have clichés, it’s just brutally honest.

Toward the end of the album, I started to lose attention. The songs are all great, however, I miss the emotional arc that the first half provided. The single, “Born Again Teen” was a shock to Lucius fans at first, because it was a huge transition from the sound of their previous album, Wildewoman. However, once the full album was released, the song fits into the overall production of Good Grief. It isn’t one of my favorite songs, but I do appreciate the production of the song to emulate the sporadic emotional range and attention span of a teen. It feels like three different songs meshed into one, but somehow the group makes it fit.

The closing song, titled “Dusty Trails”, brings them back to the sound of their previous album. It is an amazing closer on their part, because of it’s simplicity and honesty. I’m a big fan of folk music, and so this song is also one of my favorites. Throughout the song, the lyrics seem to be an autobiography of the band – from where they have been, to where they are headed – most likely down a ‘dusty trail’. I also admire the slow addition of strings, an electric guitar, and a steady drumbeat that acts as the heart beat of the song.

Good Grief has tremendous potential to be a spring/summer album, with it’s unique rhythms that drive every song. Each song has a life to it that will make you dance, but with the meaningful lyrics that will make you think when you are relaxing on the beach. If you are looking to expand your music horizons, this album has something for everyone. Lucius has delivered a spectacular album. They took huge leaps of improvement in musicality, creativity, and production. I don’t doubt that their live performances will also be at the same caliber, or higher.

Listen to Good Grief here: Spotify

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