Paste (magazine) - "For all its '80s pop touchstones, GOOD GRIEF is very much a forward-looking record."
Clash (magazine) - "Opener `Madness' proves a good statement of intent, a slow burning string filled number which at first sees the band unchanged before exploding into a overflowing chorus."
Personnel: Rob Moose (strings).
Audio Mixer: Tom Elmhirst.
Recording information: Electric Lady Studios, New York City; Scarborough, Maine; Subtle McNugget,Los Angeles.
Lucius' full-length debut, Wildewoman, packaged the seductive, tandem lead vocals of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig in a musical array that spanned earthy folk textures and dramatic, '80s-glossed dance-pop. Their follow-up, Good Grief, springboards off of the latter and lands with a slick and boisterous design colored by '80s pop production to a degree that it may cause occasional flashbacks to anything from high-tension ABBA to the brightest of Whitney Houston. The vast majority of the time, though, the album keeps all attention in the moment as the two songbirds belt, flit, and croon their way through a bold song list. Co-produced by the band and Shawn Everett (Weezer, Julian Casablancas), the record eases listeners in with the soft, a cappella opening of the wistful power ballad "Madness." Gentle strings and spare drums join the women's harmonies, before both droning and prodding synth timbres conspire with the vocalists for a full-contrast, attacking chorus. Similarly, "Gone Insane" thematically and almost literally goes from a whisper to a scream, with the singers actually losing their vocal composure at one point in the song. Possessing more level dynamics, the early Prince-inspired "Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain" is still full of spunk and supple performances. Good Grief has the overall effect of being very loud, even if in reality Wolfe and Laessig offer athletic variations in delivery and there are quieter moments to be found in the record's mix. With attention to song intros and outros, the song sequencing provides necessary balance between ballads and boomers. "Something About You," a diva vehicle with rumbling synthesized tones, for instance, is followed by the tenderer if still powerful "What We Have (To Change)." Amidst the relative hubbub, album highlights include "Born Again Teen," whose crackling drums, buoyant melody, and sexy spirit have all the makings of a summer jam, and the yearning piano ballad "My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve." A vivacious near reinvention that's bound to alienate some fans and attract others, the biggest constant here is the technical proficiency and complementary blending of the band's lead singers. The pair -- who are notably also the album's sole songwriters -- make a visual show of this, wearing matching clothes and hairstyles in performance. That quality ultimately overcomes any shifts in style, and also makes them hard to ignore. ~ Marcy Donelson