It’s time to announce the Album of the Summer for 2016. And the winner is: Dominic and the Lucid, for FERRET [applause; cue the pit orchestra].
The competition wasn’t even close this year. Released in June, a few days before the equinox, FERRET has all the attributes of a great summer record: it’s catchy, bright, and cleanly recorded, with breezy interludes and flashes of white-hot rock. And that’s just the surface of these exquisitely crafted songs.
Repeated listening is rewarded with the discovery of fresh layers of vocals and instrumentation — horns and strings and keys and weird nuggets of noise half buried in the mix; somewhere deep down in there, a didgeridoo. The meticulous attention to detail, coupled with a playful psychedelic pop sensibility and lots of brainy bits, brings to mind XTC’s exceptional output from Skylarking on. FERRET is that good.
This is a marked departure from the band’s third release, The Lucid’s great eponymous album of 2011, which was recorded more-or-less live and loaded with longer, proggy songs. Several tracks here seem almost like snippets, such as the title cut, a disorienting piece of musique concrete, and “Commodore SnakeVision,” which comes off at first listen like it was recorded on an ’80s-era Commodore 64 that goes haywire and dies after about a minute.
Yet those are just palate-cleansers. Dig into the wondrously realized ode to an embryo (“11 Week Heartbeat”), savor the Kinksian side trip into chanson (“Boy From Avignon”), and feast your ears on “Madawaska,” with its languid trumpet break and big, swooping chorus. You’ll love the strummy stuff, like “Catnip Curious” and “Stoned In The Suburbs,” the stadium rock (opener “Apex Predator,” “Solid Gold Julian”), and the majestic power balladry of “You Can Sing” and the elegiac closer, “You Seem a Shadow.”
Singer/guitarist Dominic Lavoie never rests on rock songwriting conventions. He subverts your expectations from one section of the song to the next. The tracks might swell with orchestral grandeur or slip into a cappella, erupt with crackling electric guitar or abruptly vanish and reemerge twisted into a trippier shape. The only things you can count on are amazement and delight.
— Chris Busby
Dominic and the Lucid are on hiatus at present due to the recent relocation of a band member; see dominicandthelucid.com for more.