I’m having a hard time coming up with many other bands in Maine that have been as consistent and have been together for as long as Portland’s Dominic and the Lucid. When I think about all the bands that broke up, got back together, took extended breaks, didn’t play a live show for years and all the usual band B.S., the Lucid are one of a small handful that have managed to keep it all together.
Granted, “Ferret” is the band’s fourth album in ten years, and its first new one in five years, since 2011’s “The Lucid” — though three out of the four bandmates played on the two ShaShaSha EPs in 2012 and 2013. But it is, as they say, well worth the wait; “Ferret” is a return to form from Dominic Lavoie, Scott Mohler, Chuck Gagne and Nathan Cyr, who have had only time to mature and improve as musicians and songwriters over the years.
There are several straight-up rock bangers here — “Catnip Curious,” “Stoned in the Suburbs” and “Solid Gold Julian” are the kinds of songs that the Lucid excels at, with huge singalong melodies and a groovy, 70s vibe that makes you think it would be better heard blaring through an 8-track in a wood-paneled AMC. The touchstones here are numerous; a little Big Star, a bit of the Beach Boys, something like Dr. Dog (for a more contemporary reference). There’s even a little of the brilliant madness of Ween, like on the slightly ridiculous (but highly entertaining) stylistic detour “Boy from Avignon,” which could just as easily be a B-side from an Electric Light Orchestra album. Brass and string orchestrations are peppered throughout the album, on both full songs and on the several musical interludes strategically placed here and there; they add depth to the places they appear, adding to an overall sense of warmth, captured by producer Jonathan Wyman. This is music for warm weather, or for warm and cozy backwoods cabins; for long summer days ambling around the St. John Valley, the native land of Lavoie, Gagne and Cyr alike.
In fact, one of the nicest songs about Maine I’ve ever heard appears near the end of the album, with “Madawaska,” a touching tribute to Lavoie’s hometown, evoking that kind of bittersweet nostalgia that only a childhood growing up in a far-flung yet close-knit rural town can. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Dominic and the Lucid has stayed together, and remained vital, after more than a decade: there’s a kind of heartfelt sincerity found in most of the band’s songs — something that cannot be manufactured or replicated or faked, if it’s not there to begin with. There’s nothing fake about Dominic and the Lucid.
Plus: bonus points for the best album cover art from a Maine band in as long as I can remember.
Dominic and the Lucid will play a record release show with Ghost of Jupiter and Is She? on Friday, June 17 at Portland House of Music and Events. Listen to “Ferret” starting on Friday on Bandcamp and, soon, on Spotify.