Lucius: Second Nature (Mom + Pop) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023  


Second Nature

Mom + Pop

May 11, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The stars seem to be in alignment for Lucius. It’s currently a real purple patch for Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the duo originally from Brooklyn, now more at home in Nashville. Six years after Good Grief, they have just released their third album, Second Nature. The world was alerted to their rising stock after their vocal contributions on the recent Brandi Carlile (“You and Me on the Rock”) and The War on Drugs (“I Don’t Live Here Anymore”) singles. They have brought in multi-Grammy winning Americana heavyweights Dave Cobb and Carlile to co-produce, but does it land that knockout punch?

Album opener “Second Nature” is sparkly and catchy for sure, but it is too brittle to be the strong title track that’s needed to kick off the LP. Lead single, “Next to Normal” has a funky undertone with its fuzzy guitars and cowbell mix. The first track that stands out is the beautifully stark, First Aid Kit-esque “24.” The harmonies from Wolfe and Laessig here are heavenly as they sing, “24 words I could rearrange to try and explain what I’m going through.”

They chose Cobb to produce what is fundamentally a disco-pop record here. It is not a genre that he is renowned for and as a consequence, the sonic results are mixed. “Heartbursts,” “LSD,” and, “Dance Around It” are cases in point. On the flip side, the album also has some wonderful hooks and moments. “The Man I’ll Never Find,” which features backing vocals from Sheryl Crow and Carlile, is measured and real. Lucius drummer Dan Molad and Laessig separated in 2018 after a five-year marriage. Laessig sings, “I thought that it would be you/I wanted it to be you/And I’m sorry I was always looking for the man that I’ll never find.” You can really hear the influence of Carlile coming through here with its grand, symphonic arrangement in the footsteps of her own recent masterpieces, “Party of One” and “The Joke.”

“Promises” has a distinct west-coast feel as it meshes yearning acoustic and pulsing electronic beats. The punchy “Tears in Reverse” mixes hip-hop with a sustained ’80s vibe and the gentle, yet mildly underwhelming “White Lies” closes the record.

Second Nature sounds ultra-polished, sweet and, fun. If you are searching out escapist pop tunes, it is a welcome diversion from 2020s doom. It’s a good album, but not a great album; a chance missed perhaps. Laessig and Wolfe are covering some important, personal themes here, but you wonder if the glare from the dancefloor glitterball blinds the heart and soul of the record just a little too much. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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