Lucy Dacus’ music is a free-of-charge aura cleanser — and it’s about time the woman behind it all is both thanked and celebrated for it.
After three LPs, including the recent Home Video, as well as her work in the supergroup boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, Dacus has solidified herself as indie royalty with no dismissal from the throne in sight. Plus, who would even want to see her unfettered genius ever say goodbye?
As she continues to apply her recognizable red lipstick and churn out more worthwhile tracks, we’re due to take a look back at all 37 of her showpieces thus far. Here’s a definitive ranking of Dacus’ discography:
37. “Strange Torpedo” (No Burden)
There are many other tracks on this album that have a similar feel, but “Strange Torpedo” sits as the most forgettable, ultimately rendering no climax that all listeners hope to get to but never receive.
36. “In The Air Tonight” (2019)
Though it feels like a carbon copy — just as sexy and hypnotic — as Phil Collins’ original, this cover of “In The Air Tonight” doesn’t match Dacus’ usual style: one that constantly packs a punch. It is, however, the perfect track to turn to when you want to set the mood.
35. “Next of Kin” (Historian)
“Next of Kin” virtually stays on the same wavelength the whole time, not showcasing any variations in tone or building to anything besides the bridge, which concludes anticlimactically — yet even her worst moments sound as incredible as feeling comfortable enough to open up to a newfound friend.
34. “Cartwheel” (Home Video)
There’s something very fairytale-like about “Cartwheel,” almost like “Where am I, and why does it feel so magical?” Even so, while the delicate guitar strings whisk you away to a better world, the stream of consciousness lyrics will leave you dazed and confused.
33. “Timefighter” (Historian)
There is something inexplicably nagging about the opening beat, which is riddled with a boosted bass-esque detail, and it continually lingers throughout the almost six-minute track. While the guitar is unflawed, the beat is consistent and a distraction to the otherwise sheer beauty of this track.
32. “VBS” (Home Video)
Though “VBS” is an all-too-relatable tale about the indelible experiences of a vacation bible school, it’s sonically bland, relying on the lyrics which, while intriguing, aren’t enough.
31. “Dancing In The Dark” (2019)
Dacus makes this Bruce Springsteen cover her own, as if she was born to play those energizing guitar chords and sing those anthemic lyrics. It also just feels perfectly Dacus-like and serves as a reminder that she’s just as remarkable as the industry legends she’ll soon join.
30. “The Shell” (Historian)
The guitar solo immediately following the second verse is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize, and it carries this track from ordinary to a lauded artifact.
29. “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” (No Burden)
As the opening track on her debut LP, “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” serves as Dacus’ entrance into a world she’d soon dominate. She respectably does it with aggression, groove and, most importantly, pizzazz, capturing attention and never again letting it out of her reach.
28. “Last Christmas” (2019)
This cover of the Wham! classic is the rocked-out version we never knew we needed until we received it. This is a tune you’ll want to blast in July in the 90-degree heat while you’re cruising down the interstate, basking in the steaming sunshine and feeling on top of the world.
27. “Trust” (No Burden)
Minimalistic instrumentation works only for a few people — one of those being Dacus. You’ll hardly remember the soft acoustic guitar is there as her oh-so sweet voice, while speaking the words of an unwell person searching for the road to recovery, resembles a sneak peek into heaven.
26. “Direct Address” (No Burden)
Hardly ever have there been more relatable lyrics, with Dacus trying her hardest to get over a love that was never mutual. The gentle harmonies that graze her damaged words as the track fades out are as gorgeous as they come.
25. “Brando” (Home Video)
It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that someone took advantage of you all this time later, but Dacus nails the reality of it on the head: you reminisce on how things were with this newfound perspective and wish you could confront them but never get further than letting it play out in your mind. This flashback feels as magical as that sweet moment would, if only it could really happen.
24. “Hot & Heavy” (Home Video)
This track undoubtedly gets better as it goes, transforming from an eerie beginning to a mesmerizing outro that flawlessly captures every feeling held within one’s chest about returning home for the first time after being away from so long.
23. “Addictions” (Historian)
While Dacus discusses the not-so-healthy things in life, including forming an overbearing attachment to your significant other, a lifeline in the shape of a brass-filled explosion is doctor-certified as a much-needed dose of serotonin.
22. “Partner in Crime” (Home Video)
No one expected Dacus to ever use autotune, given that her transfixing voice needs no adjustments, but it works well here — so much so you’ll find yourself keeping the track on repeat for a little while.
21. “Thumbs” (Home Video)
This sounds like vintage Dacus: light instrumentation that’s not too faint but does enough to accent her crucial vocals. It’s as if calm waves are crashing behind a full-fledged breakdown, with Dacus reassuring her friend she would protect them from their dad, even if that means having to kill him. It’s pure catharsis.
20. “La Vie En Rose” (2019)
Dacus does justice to this Edith Piaf original. She completely changes the pace and feel of the track, which doesn’t always turn out well when artists attempt to alter classics, but Dacus turns this into a full-of-feeling, formidable effort worthy of all-around applause.
19. “Body to Flame” (Historian)
The instrumental break takes this already sublime track to new heights. Strings galore, a show-stopping guitar and a steady drum beat hoist Dacus to the heavens, the only place “Body to Flame” could’ve been conceived.
18. “Yours & Mine” (Historian)
There’s a slight Western feel to this track, as if Dacus is about to burst through the saloon doors and tell off anyone who dares to approach her. It’s not meant to salute or garner any comparisons to America, however, as this is Dacus’ powerful response to the ongoing police brutality — events that have left her with no pride in her country.
17. “Going Going Gone” (Home Video)
The actual track, while pacifying and unflawed, is almost overshadowed by the sneak peek into the wholesome studio session at the end. We hear her fellow boygenius members, among other voices, make known their satisfaction with the performance, and Dacus gives her endless thank-you’s. It’s too pure for this world.
16. “Forever Half Mast” (2019)
Dacus really nails America in one sentence: “Yes, you’re evil, but you’re not that bad.” She continues to remark her disapproval for the choices America has made when it could’ve contributed to the greater good, but she inspiringly pushes Americans instead to fight for a better future — and make the decisions we should’ve made long ago.
15. “Dream State…” (No Burden)
The guitar mirrors that of a calming stroll through the forest with no destination in mind before what almost sounds like an alien abduction joins the mix, adding a bit of flavor and surprise to the irreplaceable, feel-good track.
14. “Triple Dog Dare” (Home Video)
That soft, persistent twinkle is exactly what would play in a film at the moment the protagonist figures everything out and runs after their destiny — in this case, Dacus figuring out she’s queer and wants to be romantically involved with her friend. The instrumentation’s build is gradual and quickly explodes before dying off in an inexplicably fulfilling way.
13. “Nonbeliever” (Historian)
It’s hard to tell anyone you care about that your beliefs don’t align with theirs — especially your parents. Dacus hits the after effects on the head, displaying the shock, self-pity and looking to others who seem to have their life together (but definitely don’t because no one truly does). It ends with the wholly cathartic detonation of her pent-up emotions and the feeling of finally being free to believe what she’d like.
12. “Green Eyes, Red Face” (No Burden)
There is an unexplainable swagger to this track. The way the guitar sways in the background and gently accents Dacus’ vocals as she tries to garner the attention of a beautiful person across the room…Well, if they didn’t end up letting her sit beside them, they must have a heart of stone.
11. “Historians” (Historian)
It’s easy to forget there’s lyrics — because the strings are so incredibly emotive. The instrumentation feels like a rite of passage, a time to mark in red ink, but the words add even more emphasis. Two people are watching each other live out their lives, and when one dies, the other will be able to relive their own life through another’s perspective. Prepare for goosebumps to make way and not leave for a while.
10. “First Time” (Home Video)
Though Dacus’ slow-paced, folksy songs are always memorable stingers, this rock-driven one will reverberate in your mind for days. She 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. For all those hopeless romantics out there, you’ll unquestionably feel her pain.
9. “Fool’s Gold” (2019)
Probably Dacus’ most underrated track, “Fool’s Gold” takes place at a new year’s party. She and her friends place blame on external factors, such as alcohol, for them needing to change themselves for the coming year — never outright saying they just need to improve themselves. It feels like an entire worthwhile novel in just over three minutes, and it’s just as pretty as it is detailed.
8. “Christine” (Home Video)
This track is a manifestation of everything we all wish to tell our friends who are dating people unworthy of them. 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, which is not what her current boyfriend is giving her. You’ll feel the lyrics to your core.
7. “...Familiar Place” (No Burden)
This is a stress reliever if there’s ever been one. Somber guitars welcome the listener in, amplifying the power of Dacus’ rich pipes. The rhythm guitar jingles out all the leftover stress, leaving a relieved listener to run free while Dacus picks up the trepidation and throws it away. It’s stunning through and through.
6. “Pillar of Truth” (Historian)
Dacus is thinking ahead to her last moment, when she hopes she holds just as much strength as her grandma did when she passed. The instrumentation gradually builds from a soft, guiding guitar and transforms into full-fledged chaos, and it’s — in a word — breathtaking.
5. “Map On A Wall” (No Burden)
Similar to “Pillar of Truth,” this track kicks off with a trickling guitar before blossoming into something bigger. This time, the fiery instrumentation is short-lived — yet equally enticing — and fades into a sea of solace via Dacus’ comforting voice.
4. “My Mother & I” (2019)
This track cuts deep. Dacus’ mother hates her body yet loves her daughter’s, which is about the same shape. She goes on to discuss what her mom passed on to her and what she’ll take with her wherever she ends up. The subdued synths help spotlight Dacus’ moving words and create an otherworldly universe of which none of us are worthy.
3. “Please Stay” (Home Video)
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 calming mood Dacus is trying to set as the rest of boygenius helps gently accent her words, begging the friend to hang on. It’s like high tide in an ocean of tears.
2. “Troublemaker Doppelgänger” (No Burden)
This is the ultimate hype song. The guitar and drums will drive you to want to confront all your fears, but the words tell a valuable story: you have to decide whether being vulnerable or safeguarding yourself from the world’s ubiquitous evils will get you further. The guitar only builds with force, and Dacus gets tough with each passing note. If none of that kills you, the unmatched harmonies will.
1. “Night Shift” (Historian)
There are two reasons Dacus’ best song is also her most popular: people apparently have taste, and it has an ability to resonate with people in a way that most artists couldn’t even imagine. Dacus, living with her ex partner who works in the morning, took the late shift at work to avoid seeing them as much as possible. She hopes it’ll be years down the line and she’ll remember their time together as something worth cherishing, but for now, her heart aches. The instrumentation swells into a pool of emotion, one that’s almost overwhelming. Even if you’ve never experienced a devastating relationship like that, you’ll find yourself empathizing with her. Dacus may never make another track like “Night Shift,” but she doesn’t need to. She’s already proven herself and more.