Search The Line of Best Fit
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Release date: 31 March 2014
Lucius – Wildewoman
24 March 2014, 11:30 Written by Jon Putnam

It’s Thursday as I sit down to write this review and, according to Twitter and Facebook, it’s another “Throwback Thursday”. Throwback is a word I find riddled throughout music journalism lately; indeed, one I find myself using a fair bit. I’m hardly going to defend the shameless and lazy ripping off of a style or artist, but as far as being retro, I’m beginning to now think, who cares? Often, if you think you may have heard something somewhere before, chances are you probably have, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still sound great.

Lucius, the two-girl-three-guy quintet from Brooklyn, could be an easy casualty of this unreasonable, highfalutin mindset. Dual vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessing are the undeniable focal points of the group, dressing in identical mod-styled garb and sporting matching bob haircuts. For those judging a book by its cover, the ladies’ fashion sense along with their garish album art would be due cause for relegating Lucius to the retro dustbin. It’s almost a shame, really, that the band has opted to push their overt 1960s sensibilities for that very reason of risking unfair pigeonholing, for Wildewoman is truly a terrific album. While it is obviously no surprise that Lucius carries a full deck of 1960s sonic flourishes, they also use such modern acts as Neko Case and the Mynabirds as stylistic touchstones.

It’s quite incredible, really, that Wildewoman is a debut album. The performances are assured and impeccably crafted without becoming self-conscious or stilted and they nimbly handle their eclecticism while retaining focus. Lyrically, the group tackles a potentially treacherous theme – essentially that of vulnerable feminism – with maturity and aplomb. The album’s first half houses much of Lucius’ retro-sounding grooves, from the Merseybeat snaps of “Turn It Around” to the R&B of “Hey, Doreen”, and includes in those two tracks, plus the blistering riff-driven “Nothing Ordinary”, the album’s barn-burners. Wolfe and Laessing tackle the vocals in unison nearly the entire album, creating a vocal juggernaut whose force seems far more tangible than any studio manufactured vocal layers.

Admittedly, the genre-hopping of sorts, particularly early on, seems incongruous at first, initially presenting Wildewoman as simply a great collection of songs, but that quickly coalesces after repeated listens to reveal it as an alluring whole. Wildewoman’s latter half dials back on the intensity as the focus turns inward toward matters of the heart. Having laid out their M.O. in the opening title track, that a woman “will only be bound by the things she chooses”, Wolfe and Laessing continue to weave that thread of independence and responsibility through ruminations on love and relationships.

Maturing from the short-sighted girl of “Turn It Around”, they demand on “Don’t Just Sit There” that they have an open dialogue from their partner; they aren’t too proud to implore an ex to give it one more go on “Until We Get There”; and they resolve that “we were children, now we’ve grown” as they pine for their long-distance love on the remarkable closer, “How Loud Your Heat Gets”. What’s impressive is that as strong as Wolfe and Laessing are on the album’s first half corkers, they are just as swooningly elegant on these softer, slower tracks.

The ladies sing on “Two Of Us On The Run” that there “are no races, only runners”. Music journalism often feels like a rat race, with a primary objective of a constant, often seemingly futile, pursuit of the next great novelty. So let’s forget the race and appreciate the runners; in this case, look past the visual affectations and appreciate a peerless and affecting album, from start line to finish.

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