By Max Freedman
We so most incessantly mediate of music as a free-flowing expression of 1’s innermost emotions — yearning, be pleased, danger, dread — that it’s jolting to listen to Lucy Dacus discuss it as roughly the opposite. “There are design more facts on this,” the Richmond, Virginia-essentially based entirely mostly 26-year-aged says of her third album, Dwelling Video, a series of crystal-certain, individuals-inflected rock songs with lyrics that match the music’s lucidity. No longer that she’s out right here burying statistics in music. As a change, she’s recounting aged memories and not using a filter and turning them into songs, an strive “to create expose out of something… [and] verbalize withhold watch over over my notion of myself.” In that regard, Dwelling Video is a smashing success: It puts Dacus’s teenage and early-twenties experiences on the page more clearly than the rest she’s done earlier than.
Every song on Dwelling Video, Dacus tells MTV Details within the future of a mid-afternoon Zoom chat, “is about any person specific. There’s an right name and face within the support of it.” By distinction, on her 2016 debut No Burden and 2018 sophomore LP Historian, she “turned into making an effort…to put in writing issues that hold been in actual fact neatly-liked.” Those albums earned her a recognition as a main negate in a brand new generation of lyrically deft rock musicians — in 2018, the Fresh York Cases called her a “important person.” The praise dovetailed with an onslaught of touring, first within the support of Historian after which spherical her endlessly buzzed-about EP with Boygenius, her trio with contemporaries and pricey visitors Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. The acclaim, success, and travels hold been immense, however the downsides of the latter partly ended in the sharpened verse that dominates Dwelling Video.
“Touring loads and being faraway from Richmond in actual fact shook my id,” Dacus says, “because I found loads of myself in my fatherland and being concerned with the music neighborhood there. I felt this bustle to reexamine [my] past to accept support to a couple core part of who I’m. On occasion, I drag to accept the sense that a past version of myself holds more weight than who I’m now.”
Needless to verbalize, the Boygenius tour wasn’t all sinister, and you’re going to also hear one of its finest upsides throughout the first seconds of Dwelling Video. Warm synths frequently introduce the sparkling, Springsteen-esque opener “Sizzling & Heavy.” “Being in a band with Phoebe and Julien modified how I write,” Dacus says. “I felt esteem it gave me more accept entry to to myself, and I realized I had all these guidelines about what I’m in a position to also and could presumably well now not [do] for no reason.” On No Burden and Historian, she held firmly to those guidelines, which integrated a total ban on pianos, synths, and acoustic guitars — which all play a big, intentional characteristic on Dwelling Video. They’re a welcome enhance: Despite the incontrovertible fact that Dacus insists that Dwelling Video “technically [has] some heavier matters than earlier than,” her music has by no technique sounded lighter and freer. This looseness persists whether Dacus’s crystal-certain recollections are enlightening, revitalizing, crushing, or all the above.
Dwelling Video most incessantly sounds esteem a shut buddy unburdening herself of a formative teenage or early faculty memory in paunchy detail. With Dacus’s expanded, freer sonic palette, she wishes handiest droning synths to ground a myth: On “Thumbs,” she tells of final bodily point to with any person going thru the unthinkably horrid trip of seeing their emotionally abusive father for the first time in ages (“I could presumably maybe execute him whenever you occur to let me” is a balm, now now not a menace). When she mentally revisits an aged buddy caught in a relationship that fit neither their emotional wishes nor their sexuality, she does so now now not amid her longtime despair, bluesy rock however as a replacement twinkling pianos and acoustic guitars (“Christine”). In each and each instances — and throughout the album — Dacus paints her experiences in so remarkable detail that it’s good to presumably well presumably also as successfully be correct next to her. You will seemingly be ready to practically smell the nutmeg the teenage antihero of “VBS” snorts in his bunk bed (an match Dacus says is, yes, a fact).
It’s shut to impossible to vow Dwelling Video without naming issues Dacus has if fact be told skilled, and that’s precisely the point. The sequence showcases her less as a songwriter than a storyteller with a novelist’s pen, an empath with a photographic memory. Her dependancy of telling it esteem it is comes from her upbringing. As she discusses the “a entire bunch of hours of home movies that my dad took of me after I turned into younger,” she says that this pictures evokes “the vitality [of] taking a see at something and documenting it.”
That’s a plentiful phase of why Dacus chose to title the album Dwelling Video. “[My dad] turned into making sense of his environment by framing it and lowering out all the pieces else,” she says, “and that is a creative impulse I’ve shared with him…focusing on one thing can wait on all the pieces else.” Dacus also says she feels the same about looking out at these tapes as writing her songs: “I attain out of them realizing bigger than I did earlier than and feeling esteem I hold vitality over my hold thoughts.”
Despite the incontrovertible fact that Dacus doesn’t listing clips herself, she says she’s “carrying on this construction of memory that my dad began. I could presumably well be writing a song a few sinister relationship…or a buddy in excessive faculty that I hold complex emotions about, however it be smooth stuff I want to be unsleeping, and stuff that I will be unsleeping because I learned from it. It formed me.” Later, talking about something else entirely, Dacus says something that feels tied to this mindset. “I accept a higher determining of my existence after I revisit issues each and each couple of years,” she says. “I establish loads of files from realizing how remarkable I didn’t realize previously.”
Stop to Dwelling Video’s discontinuance, Dacus sounds closer than ever to determining who she’s previously been, what she’s been thru, and how that’s all made her who she is this day. On “Brando,” amid excessive-strung acoustic guitars that sound esteem flora without be aware bursting from a long-budding stem, Dacus is entirely unsleeping that she’s far superior to what an aged be pleased passion knowing of her. “You called me cerebral,” she recalls earlier than asking with a wholesome dose of humor, “Would it now now not hold killed you to call me gorgeous as a replacement?” The chorus hinges on the declaration that “you by no technique knew me esteem you knowing you did,” as even though Dacus — as a minimum for now — does know herself. And more importantly, she has no time for individuals that can’t look in herself what she does.
Two tracks later, as Dacus sings “I’m now now not tired but / We smooth purchased loads to settle on out” on the outset of closer “Triple Canines Dare,” she appears to be like to be to acknowledge that this total self-reckoning thing is an unending cycle. Irrespective of how shut you attain to realizing your factual self, it’s good to presumably well presumably also continuously accept closer — what matters is that you’re using the past to order the future. “I turned into procuring for something Capital-T True about myself,” Dacus says, “and I fabricate now now not hold the feeling that I found it. But,” she adds confidently, “I enact feel factual about the technique.”