Bringing back groove and funk
Releasing on April 8th, 2022, the duo Lucius (Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig) subvert audience expectations on Second Nature: an album filled with funk, flow and breaks free from their prior singer-songwriter roots. Each track is vibrantly its own; each able to bring a variety of rhythmic and melodic ideas to the overall album.
One of Second Nature’s biggest strengths musically is its use of ’80s, disco-inspired rhythms and harmonies. Some tracks rely on this rhythmic idea more than others, and the ones that lean on this trope and take a risk tend to stand out more as a result. The first song on the album: the self-titled “Second Nature,” encompasses this idea perfectly.
A particular aspect that this album thrives in is its syncopated and catchy rhythms featuring the percussion and synths. With a perfect ’80s flare featuring echoing major third harmonies and a strong bass guitar riff along with a simple yet catchy chorus line, the song feels like a blast from the past. These faster-paced, groovier tunes featured on the album, such as “Dance Around It (feat. Brandi Carlile & Sheryl Crow)” and “Next to Normal,” are extremely catchy and likewise easy to get stuck in the listener’s head.
A song that stands out from the rest in both musical and lyrical production is “24.” This song begins with no percussion for the first half before picking up a light percussive rhythm as the song progresses. It starts out very simplistically, with both Wolfe and Laessig singing in unison a-cappella, eventually branching out into harmonies later in the song as other instruments and percussion are added. This song isn’t as groovy or ’80s inspired as the rest of the album— although it has certain elements like a reliance on synthesizers and booming drums, it is still a standout despite its differences from other tracks.
One can definitely see the traces of the singer-songwriter elements that the group is famous for in these tracks, yet it works as an advantage. The contrast at the beginning of the song and the intimacy that it is able to create with the whispery and alluring vocals is unparalleled. Glimpses of the same idea are carried out in other tracks as well, more commonly in their slower more lyrical songs such as “Heartbursts” or the final track “White Lies,” where the rhythm is not the main focal point of the piece, instead the melody line and the voices of Wolfe and Laessig shine through.
Overall, with strong inspirations from the era of disco and funk, Lucius successfully take a musical risk by going outside of their singer-songwriter and more country/folk roots. With standout tracks that will be in your head hours after listening, Second Nature creates the feeling of being in an ’80s disco while being in the 21st century.