Review Summary: The future is a benevolent black hole
The three members of the band Boygenius have emerged as the faces of a major strand in the current indie scene. While the three women casually imitated Crosby, Stills, and Nash on the cover of their supergroup’s eponymous album, this review’s introduction will equate them to a different legendary band from rock’s bygone era, The Beatles (stay with me here). In this analogy, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker would definitively occupy the roles of John Lennon and Paul McCartney (which one is which is open to interpretation). Meanwhile, Lucy Dacus, while not without her devoted fans, definitively remains in the shadow of her two contemporaries, lacking the fame and the defining artistic statement her fellows have already garnered. With her third LP, Home Video
, though, Dacus has come into her own, suggesting that rather than being cast as Ringo Starr, she may well be Boygenius’ George Harrison (a bright talent who just needed time to bloom, despite being initially forgotten behind more flashy friends).
Speaking as a (casual) fan of Dacus’ first two albums, Home Video
is definitively a more cohesive listen than those admittedly spotty efforts. Taken as a whole, it’s a fairly mellow work, leaning more towards singer-songwriter folk while retaining some of the rock edge of her previous material. That said, the brooding grunginess which flavored some of her earlier songs is mostly gone. The overarching concept here is the musician’s reminiscence of her youth in Richmond, Virginia, and the results are a collection of personal vignettes which are at times deeply touching. Lyrically, this is Dacus’ strongest release yet, and at various times they approach brilliance.
Sonically, there’s a variety of elements at play in Home Video
. Songs range from the folky guitar of “Going Going Gone” to the dreamy beauty of “Cartwheel” to the driving beat of “First Time”. The opener, “Hot & Heavy” provides a strong start with its suitably Springsteen-esque blend of nostalgia and bombast. There are a few missteps, like the auto tuned vocals of “Partner In Crime” (although that’s nearly redeemed by the powered-up guitar solo halfway through), and more generally the fact that a good chunk of the record’s second half feels a tad more forgettable than the early going. However, when the last notes of the almost-textbook epic closer “Triple Dog Dare” fade out, it’s clear that Home Video
is Lucy Dacus’ finest release yet, by a wide margin.
It’s the way of the world that this album will inevitably draw comparisons to Dacus’ compatriots’ most recent efforts. The frequent darkness of the lyrical themes can draw similarities to Little Oblivions
, and the mild singer-songwriter tendencies promote associations with Punisher
.That said, Home Video
is its own beast, a vessel of Dacus’ creativity independent of her sometime bandmates. This record feels less bleak than Little Oblivions
and rocks harder than Punisher
, and should draw in a wide range of listeners, whether they’re fans of those albums or not. A heartfelt record channeling youthful memories good and bad will always find an audience, and that is what Home Video
delivers in spades.