In Review: Lucy Dacus - Home Video

Dacus' new album is witty and frank, juvenile and mature, messy and refined all at once, staking a claim for one of 2021's albums of the year.
Posted: 20 June 2021 Words: Isaac Bartels

Home Video is the final piece from boygenius' members trilogy of solo releases, following recent releases by fellow bandmates Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. However, despite the immersive, personal storytelling set to gutsy indie rock arrangement, this is not a boygenius release. This is a Lucy Dacus release and my God, it’s captivating.

From its genesis, the empty synths of ‘Hot & Heavy’ set the blank page for Dacus to begin weaving her tapestry. The instrumental picks up the pace, introducing euphoric element after element, all the while lamenting the bittersweetness of returning to a home that, like a childhood sweater, no longer fits right.

Dacus displays an effortless ability to flip between narratives. One moment, she’s retelling a intimate moment between two friends - “We’re coming home from a sermon saying how bent and evil we are” - the next, she’s reclining into the depths of her mind, fantasising the cinematic wedding of her muse - “But if you get married, I’d object / Throw my shoe at the altar and lose your respect.” Her lyrics, which so often stand impressively as individual lines, simply shine.

The centrepiece of the project, ‘Thumbs’ sells the album better than any glowing review could. Deeply personal and devastating, the song was hidden for three years, performed only in live shows. Detailing a late-night reunion between a close friend and her distant father, Dacus plays the role of emotional support with silent thunder - “I would kill him if you let me / I would kill him, quick and easy.” The visceral image of Dacus, wishing to dig her thumbs into his eyes, lingers long after the record closes.

‘Brando’ refers to a very dramatic friend I had in high school whose whole personality was the media he consumed” explains Dacus. The song opens up and sparkles in the latter half. “Fred and Ginger, black and white, I watch you watch It’s a Wonderful Life,” she eye-rolls. “You called me cerebral… would it have killed you to call me pretty instead?” It’s a high-school callout that rings too true for many “intellectual” adults, content to dish out music recommendations with little regard for receiving any in return (the irony is not lost on this reviewer).

7-minute closer ‘Triple Dog Dare’ recaps all the major themes explored through the album. Religion, repression, nostalgia and sexuality hang in the air as Dacus dreams of escaping away on her lover’s boat. “If you don’t get out now, you’ll only have yourself to blame,” she sings to her lover and one has to wonder who the advice is really for.

Something truly exceptional has been crafted here. Each track, so vividly rich with detail - musically, lyrically, thematically - demands an instant repeat, making a front-to-back listen nigh impossible. For such a low-key album, Home Video manages to do it all. It’s witty yet frank, juvenile yet mature, and messy yet refined all at once. An instant stand-out of 2021, Home Video will be hard to top. Knowing Lucy Dacus, she’s already doing just that.

Home Video is out this Friday (25th June) via Matador Records.

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