When Lucy Dacus applies her bright red lipstick, it brings out her confidence. When she opens her mouth, she has the ability to calm a nation.
Combine that with her compelling storytelling talent, well, you’ll find her music is all you can think about for days on end.
Dacus has had us all hooked since her debut LP, No Burden, in 2016. She nearly killed us with “Night Shift” and the rest of 2018’s purgative Historian, and now, she’s back to finish the job with her latest, Home Video. Dacus spends just about 46 minutes looking in retrospect, thinking about the moments she didn’t want, the ones that broke her, the ones where she came to terms with herself, the ones that shaped her and everything in between.
Even though it’s quite clear this is Dacus’ story, she has this mind-boggling way of making every note she hits, every chord she strums, feel like it’s ours too. “Thumbs” is stripped to gentle yet simultaneously full-of-feeling synths, allowing Dacus’ cathartic words about her father to shine. “Going Going Gone” is a deep dive into the worries of fathers, who worry about their daughters until they get back home from their date with the guy they don’t trust (and, yes, the realization at the end that the harmonies are those of her fellow boygenius members in a sneak peek of the most wholesome studio session ever will probably be the most you’ve felt since before the pandemic). The closer, “Triple Dog Dare,” is an emotive glimpse into Dacus’ realization that she’s queer but not ready to admit it. There is so much to cherish, but most of all, this album is so full of life that you might begin to view yours in a different light.
Here are the best three tracks from Home Video:
3. “First Time”
While most of Dacus’ discography is slow-paced, she always includes one uplifting, anthemic rock-driven track that makes us want to key the cars of those who did us wrong and tell them off. On No Burden, it was “Troublemaker Doppelgänger.” Here, it’s “First Time.” Confused synths buzz before drums — which seem as though they’ve waited years for their shining moment — burst from the seams alongside a sturdy guitar. Dacus reminisces on the first time she felt intense love coursing through her veins and how she knows she’s never felt as deeply since and may never again. To this day, she’s waiting for her former lover to sweep her off her feet again — or at least something close to that feeling. Whether or not they come back, she’ll be there thinking about them.
This track is a manifestation of everything we all wish to tell our friends who are dating people unworthy of them. Spellbinding keys twirl around Dacus’ words as she looks over to find her friend asleep on her shoulder. She nudges her once they get back to her place, and Dacus watches her leave in the arms of a man she’s come to despise. A kindhearted acoustic guitar emerges, and the track transforms into a dreamy galaxy that resembles what she thinks when her friend comes to mind: she deserves euphoria, and she deserves everything. Dacus knows her friend’s boyfriend is only nice sometimes, and she vows to condemn her choice if she ever says yes to a ring. At the end of the day, despite what her friend may think, Dacus wants her to be content, something she knows she’ll never find within him.
1. “Please Stay”
Fellow boygenius members Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker are back in a song that no one ever wants to write. Dacus, in an attempt to keep her friend from taking their life, takes note of everything they could do tomorrow instead — anything that will take their mind off the devastating thoughts running through their head. Even if the only solution is they can never talk again, Dacus wouldn’t hesitate. Soft keys trickle in the background, resembling the pacifying mood Dacus is trying to set as Bridgers and Baker gently accent her words, begging the friend to hang on. As she pleads one last time for her to stay, Dacus’ voice cracks, and it feels like high tide in an ocean of tears. You’ll be left shattered, but it’s the best song on Home Video and of the year thus far for a reason.