Lucy Dacus – Home Video

13 July 2021 / by Tina Xia
Album reviews
Lucy Dacus Home Video
Released: June 25, 2021
Label: Matador Records
Indie Pop / Indie Rock
Clairo / Julien Baker / Phoebe Bridgers
Hot & Heavy, Cartwheel, Thumbs

From rising indie singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus, comes her third record, Home Video, an 11 track homage to the teenage experience. Covering the rollercoaster of youth, from deadbeat dads and sneaking out, to awkward dates, growing out of friends, and everything in between, this charming collection of stories is a field study of Dacus’ childhood to college years. Each song is a snapshot from her adolescence, usually centering around a relationship she once held dear. Whether it’s a deeply personal reflection of discovering her sexuality in a religious household, or the painfully juvenile matter of a first crush, each feeling is delicately captured in writing, with true authenticity. 


The familiar, staple sounds of modern indie pop line every track on the record— think strummy electric guitar with some grain, and lazy, floating, vocals draped over each other. Her direction with this album evokes easy comparisons to other bedroom pop superstars in recent years, such as Wallows, Clairo, and particularly Phoebe Bridgers, with whom she collaborated back in 2018. 


As an anthology of Dacus’ relationships, songs often play the role of an unwritten letter, whether addressed to an old flame or a lifelong friend. “Hot & Heavy,” for example, the album’s lead single, provides a bittersweet opening statement for the album by capturing the turbulent but inevitable changes that come with outgrowing someone you love. Clever, bulleted lines in the verse and chorus ricochet off each other to bring tongue-twister lyrics, including “The most that I could give to you is nothing at all/ The best that I could offer was to miss your calls”. Not too far after comes “Thumbs”, an aggressively angry and violent display of feelings from a narrator who wishes to harm the birth father of a friend in brutal retaliation to the pain he has caused her. 


Another standout includes “Cartwheel”, a dreamy and lullaby-esque track, complete with finger-style picking on strings, and striking bells to tell the story of a young girl who watched her friends grow up faster than she felt she could; a song that could’ve been hand-picked straight out of K-12 by Melanie Martinez. “First Time” is your quintessential teen track, which features grainy guitar and even grainier vocals, all of which begs to be played by the local basement-borne indie rock band. 


So forget “soundtrack to a coming-of-age film”, Home Video is the story itself. It’s the perfect narrative album, an in-depth look-back on a young girl’s relationships, all captured in writing that urges the listener to lean in closer. However, the tone and texture of the sounds, separated from her writing, are lacklustre compared to the poetry of her words. The most experimental that Dacus ever really goes is some echoey reverb for her vocals in track 8, “Partner in Crime.” This rigid reliance on tried and true indie-pop sounds result in songs that, at many times, feel indistinguishable from each other, if separated from the finer details in her writing. “Please Stay”, for example, remains forgettable in comparison to higher points on the album. Similarly, “Triple Dog Dare” attempts to become an extravagant 7-minute closing ballad, but finds itself cursed with stale sounds, and a lack of texture. 


This all being said, the album remains an indisputable showcase of talent in lyricism and writing from Dacus, solidifying her force on the indie-pop scene. If her past two records were not enough to convince critics and fans of her talent and potential, then Home Video will certainly do the job.