American indie pop band Lucius’ acoustic “Nudes” is the coffeehouse album of the season. With lovely female vocals and a warm, stripped sound, it’s an ideal collection of 10 songs to listen to on a sunny spring day.
“Woman” combines ethereal chord changes with Lucius’ classic sound: powerful, feminine harmonies. The album immediately reveals itself as sonically different from past albums, thanks to the complex acoustics. The folk sound remains strong while the lead vocals complement each other throughout. This first track is actually one of the few original songs by Lucius that haven’t been released on a previous album. Many of the other songs are either covers or a reproduction of past songs.
For example, “Right Down the Line,” the iconic Gerry Rafferty tune, is beautifully reimagined by Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. One of the strongest covers on the album, the track takes a standard ‘70s rock song and transforms it into a divine girl-group ballad.
However, one of the weak points of the album would be Lucius’ re-release of “Tempest” and “Until We Get There,” both of which were released on the band’s debut album “Wildewoman” in 2014. The acoustic versions of these older Lucius songs sound nearly identical – the acoustics alone aren’t enough to set the tracks apart. For a group as innovative and original as Lucius, it’s a bit disappointing.
As Laessig and Wolfe once mentioned in an interview with the New York Times, both artists grew up listening to icons like The Beatles, a fact that shines through “Something About You.” Still showing off their perfect harmonies, the artists use a combination of handclaps and tambourine to embody some of the aspects of a typical ‘60s tune. Despite it being released on “Good Grief” just two years ago, their re-imagination of the track sounds extremely different than the original, heavily pop-infused 2016 hit.
“Neighbors” gives listeners the new material they crave while retaining a Lucius-sounding tune. The song goes deeper lyrically, but keeps the steady tambourine and percussion. Its use of slightly twangy guitar riffs gives “Neighbors” a more folk-country sound.
“Eventually,” originally produced by Tame Impala, is re-crafted with the delicate yet purposeful vocals of Laessig and Wolfe. Their incredible interpretation of this alternative hit presents “Eventually” in a new light – one that highlights the lyrical complexity of the song through Lucius’ stripped, acoustic version.
The last cover as well as the final song of “Nudes,” “Goodnight Irene” is one of the best on the album. The recording sounds vintage, which is perfect for a song that was originally recorded in 1943. It also features Roger Waters, the co-founder of Pink Floyd. The track is a dreamy, slow version of a classic – that is, until the group ends in a fit of laughter.
Overall, “Nudes” is a sonically strong album. Though it could have used more fresh, original songs, the tracks the group chose to cover were solid, and more often than not provided listeners with something new. Lucius remains a resilient female group with incredible harmonies, even with its choice to ditch the pop and indie elements for a stripped, acoustic sound.