Saturday, August 19, 2023

CD Odyssey Disc 1668: Lucius

My last Lucius review caused a (friendly) feud between myself and a Tame Impala fan (to summarize: he likes them; I don't). We’ll see if today’s words of musical wisdom are received any better.

Disc 1668 is…Wildewoman

Artist: Lucius

Year of Release: 2013

What’s up with the Cover?  A very wild woman eats an ice cream cone. What is so wild about eating an ice cream cone, you ask? Well, what if I told you she was lactose intolerant! That’s right – this woman is a risk taker, a heart breaker and (in about an hour from now) a bum quaker.

How I Came To Know It: Back in 2018 I read a review of “Nudes” (reviewed back at Disc 1252. That led me to that album, and then backwards through their catalogue, which is how I landed on “Wildewoman”.

How It Stacks Up: I have three Lucius albums (I’m still on the lookout for their latest). Of those three, “Wildewoman” comes in at #2.

Rating: 4 stars

Lucius is the singing duo of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, who make lighthearted dream pop with the bones of country songs if you were to strip them down. This music was a bit of a shock to the system after the heavy metal majesty of my previous review (Visigoth) but once I settled into their much mellower sound, I had a good time.

There is a fair bit of jangle in this music, creating not so much a wall of sound as a wall of mist. Lots is going on, but it doesn’t feel busy. The experience starts with the vocals, because Wolfe and Laessig are so naturally complementary that everything is delightfully harmonized. After that, the arrangements just fall into place.

My early favourite on the record was “Go Home” with an easy midnight stroll kind of swing, and a more stripped-down production than other places on the record. On “Nudes” Lucius totally cuts out all the extraneous sound and whenever “Wildewoman” approaches that sound is when I like it best.

The topics tend to be the drama of one’s early twenties. Lots of relationship stuff, and the wobble between the disconcerting “what’s my purpose?” and the self-affirming “embrace uncertainty!” So no need to have a complex, it is just youth in all its grandeur and exploratory grandeur. I’m no spring chicken anymore, but good music can always bring you back to a time and a place.

Tempest” is another standout, again with the two vocals blending into a single voice. It had me wondering if this is what angels sound like. Not that I’m saying there are angels, just that if they were they’d sing like this. As opposed to Valkyries, who would sing more like Visigoth. You know, with a sort of “we’ll still bear you to heaven with our otherworldly singing, but when you arrive, there will be fighting.”

But I digress…

Two of Us on the Run” may be the record’s best tune. It captures all the elements of the youthful wobble I referenced earlier. There is a romantic element, an exploration of the world (this time with your partner) and even a bit of doubt and uncertainty (delivered through well-placed minor chords) that make you unsure of whether it will all work out, but willing to strike out all the same.

Not every track took me skyward, and one or two tunes fell into an “inoffensive filler” vibe. “Until We Get There” is “Two of Us on the Run” but if it were in a less thoughtful teen road trip movie. It is still wonderful to listen to, but I found myself peeking behind the curtain of the song’s structure rather than being wrapped up in its anthemic spirit, as it intended. The trilogy of road trip tunes picks up again with “Don’t Just Sit There” which does all the same things as the earlier two tunes, but without evincing any desire for me to look behind the curtain.

This was a lot of songs exploring the same theme in a row, but I didn’t mind. I was happy to just imagine I was in a convertible, top down, driving to my next adventure. Maybe this was because a lot of my listening was in a convertible, with the top down…but Lucius did make it feel like I was driving to an adventure, and any art that puts me in that frame of mind is good by me.

Best tracks: Go Home, Tempest, Two of Us on the Run, Don’t Just Sit There

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