There’s no way else to put it: Lucius makes some of the most delightful music you’ll hear all year. Fronted by the soulful soaring voices of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, and a battery of thundering percussion, this young Brooklyn quintet’s magnetic pop gems like “Don’t Just Sit There” and “Turn It Around” are instantly happy-making, but with just the right touch of bittersweet sentiment underneath.
While Exitmusic’s transporting debut Passage ruminates on brooding despair and frayed emotions, there’s a seductive romanticism to the heartache. In songs like “The Night” and the “Storms,” the married duo — Aleska Palladino and Devon Church — creates haunting, swirling soundscapes as they sing of loneliness, love, and regret. Still, amidst the cascading waterfalls of noise and Church’s cyclone of guitar distortion, there’s a soaring, rumbling beauty to these melodies as they flitter like burning embers in the night sky. And yet, all this is but a powerful, dreamy backdrop for Palladino’s alluring voice as it swells from quivering to full-throated thunder as in the epic chorus in “The Modern Age.” Exitmusic may be melodramatic and dark, but there’s no denying that the catharsis of Passage is as intense as any album you will hear in 2012.