Lucy Dacus’ latest album “Home Video” could not have come at a better time. As we all return home for the summer and enter a sultry cancer season, Dacus gives us music that makes us reflect on our emotional stability.
According to the title, the album evokes a familiar nostalgia among Dacus’ fans as they embark on a fragmentary tour through their childhood. The singer-songwriter tells her autobiography through the lens of a girl who grew up with Christian values in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia. Dacus’ album explores all of the introspections that come with growing up regarding unrequited love, family tensions, and the limits of religion. All in all, Home Video plays like a warm hug to anyone trying to make sense of themselves through fleeting memories of the suburbs this summer.
Awarded as Libera nomination for “Best Breakthrough Artist” in 2019, Dacus is on the rise as a promising indie rock artist. Like her earlier critically acclaimed albums “Historian” and “No Burden”, “Home Video” once again uses poignant and intimate storytelling, told by her silky alto voice that fans are now comfortable with. Dacus’ boy genius groupmates Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers also provide backing vocals on the album and offer fans familiar voices. Dacus often uses second person narratives over airy acoustics, allowing the listener to experience her memoirs in a highly vicarious way.
The album starts off strongly with the upbeat guitar track on “Hot & Heavy”, which transports us straight to a sensual summer night in Dacus’ small hometown. The song addresses a person or perhaps a memory with “you” and conveys personal pieces of their childhood from the start. Although the instrumentals are lively, the lyrics still retain a touch of melancholy and contemplation, and capture the sticky sense of nostalgia.
The album also sheds retrospective light on the core memories of Dacus. Religion is a predominant issue; Against a groovy, slow instrumental track, her song “VBS” – an abbreviation for “Vacation Bible School” – tells of her formative time there. This track tells the story of your first boyfriend and features some of my favorite lyrics on the album. Lines like “Hands over our heads, reaching for God / Back in the cubicle, nutmeg snorting in your bunk bed” and “There’s nothing you can do but the only thing you found / Slayer helps to play at full volume To Hide It “Deeply” Capture the irony of Dacus’ memory of drug use and the blowing up of satanic metal in the Bible camp.
Since first performing the song in 2018, “Thumbs” has been the most anticipated and heartbreaking number from Dacus. Dacus tells the story of her dear friend who meets an absent father against a haunting, delicate synth track. Dacus’ lyrics are pathetically raw, the refrain repeats: “I would kill him / Quick and easy / Dig your nails / In my knee.” The pain behind her voice is palpable enough to provoke a nauseating response when you listen – the sign of one stellar sad girl anthem.
“Brando” quickly found its way into my daily routine. In addition to having a peppy instrumental, Dacus pokes fun at a shared archetype: that person who goes out of his way to be romantic but instead just comes across as presumptuous and ridiculously idealistic. This track is playful and the appropriate lyrics speak to anyone who has fallen victim to this type of character.
“First Time” presents the listeners with a nice coming-of-age track. On a guitar and drums combo reminiscent of songs I heard in high school, the track plays out as an optimistic but fleeting diary entry. The recurring electric guitar beats in the chorus, paired with Dacus’ whispering but passionate voice, spark a longing for a relationship I never knew I had. I recommend blowing up this track at maximum volume while you rush past street lights in your small town yelling, “Take me, take me, take me!” to your previous life in the suburbs – it worked wonders for me.
As a big advocate of Dacus’ gentle, reduced song style, I thought the only shortcoming of “Home Video” was the automatically tuned track “Partner in Crime”: The vocals are heavily edited, which depersonalizes the otherwise intimate atmosphere of the song and Mars Albums.
All in all, Dacus’ “Home Video” is exactly what was missing in this transition period. Each time you listen to her music again, her music can evoke feelings that grew up in a quiet city, where each memory has more retrospective meaning with each passing year. Whether it is helping you come to terms with your past or romanticizing your suburban life, Home Video is without a doubt one of the summer’s most rewarding albums.