Lucius are a Brooklyn five-piece with a prosaic take on updated sixties pop and a strong sense of female emancipation. So joined at the vocal cords are lead singers Jesse Wolf and Holly Laessig that many observers feel moved to work out who is doing what, but it's undeniable that this twinning effect only serves to make 'Wildewoman' the particularly distinctive proposition it is.
Using the nostalgic overtones of girl bands gone by is, however, something of a feint; the spunky characters which stalk their songs, including the title track's idiosyncratic anti-fashion heroine, are made of ingredients other than sugar and spice. 'Wildewoman' (an expression coined after people who act in a similarly chaotic way as the -beest) is an eclectic batch of tunes which vary in style from the bluesy 'Go Home' and the Mark Ronson-esque reimagined soul of 'Hey Doreen' through to the strangled waltz that is 'Monster'. If all of these tags feel a bit more contrived than necessary, it's because Wof/Laessig's craft is full of hooks, diversions and little touches, ideas popping up all over the place that sometime need a little more elaboration.
This different frame reference is exhilarating, if only for how it sits apart from any recognisable peer groups. It's also flawlessly executed; the closer 'How Loud Your Heart Gets' is an especially slick work of balladry that, if anything, speaks more to ex-Nashville country than any pretences of city-slicker metrosexuality. On the flipside, 'Tempest' has the singers' voices intertwining like winds, the song's conciliatory 'a problem shared is a problem halved' message played out over fuzzy cathedral synths and guitars both quiet and loud.
All of this is much to their credit, but here's where I get to play critics prerogative: there's still something missing. Hell knows there are nowhere near enough women in music prepared to trade as much in artistic sentiments before any other. But whilst the virtues which make the fairer sex what they are - empathy, strength, perspective - are all present, there's a corresponding lack of intimacy and very little soul. The end result is that, as polished as 'Wildewoman' undoubtedly is, there's still a feeling of emptiness about it. Ask me to put a coherent thought down on why this is and I can't. But intelligent and motivated as they clearly are, Lucius still have some way to go before they become Emily Pankhurst's fave rave.
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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.