Drenched in nostalgia and melancholia, Lucy Dacus does sadness at its best and most potent. Now onto her third album, Dacus returns with Home Video, eleven songs that are a deep dive into her coming-of-age years in suburban America. Written mostly from a bibliographical viewpoint, much of Home Video is Dacus exploring her own being, while every-so-often changing the gaze of the song to be one that is centred on Dacus’ observations of others in her life, rather than an introspective look at herself.
Pieced together in a Nashville studio she’d utilised before, the editing and production on Home Video has a vibe of longing for the past, painted in the colour of the memories associated with the slightly warped and faded VHS your parents have floating around the house filled with videos of birthdays, holidays and special occasions from your childhood.
When compared to her previous two albums, 2018’s Historian and 2016’s No Burden, on a whole much of Home Video showcases an artist brimming with confidence in their ability, while simultaneously leaning into a sound that is more sparse and less reliant on heavier hitting songs.
The album is bookended by its two best songs, the opening “Hot & Heavy” and the almost 8-minute in length “Triple Dog Dare”. As the opener, “Hot & Heavy” is used by Dacus to set the scene for the remainder of the album. While it is the most upbeat of the eleven songs, Dacus herself has noted that “Hot & Heavy” was placed as the album opener in a genuine attempt to showcase the themes and stories that were going to be central to the remainder of Home Video. Commencing with not much more than the subtlety of Dacus’ vocals, the track hits its peak from the minute mark, before the layering of the guitars and percussion come into its own in the bridge and closing choruses. It’s a genuinely pretty moment to open to album. And while “Hot & Heavy” is a treat at the front end, “Triple Dog Dare” is a slightly more tortured but just as grand ending to the album. A song of love, discovery, relief and decision making, the length of “Triple Dog Dare” allows the song to develop its own identity and not be rushed into developing a false narrative of the protagonists in the song. Just like “Hot & Heavy”, “Triple Dog Dare” is Home Video summed up in one song.
Enlisting the help of her boygenius bandmates Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker at various points of the album, they feature on the choruses of “Please Stay” (an enigmatic and dark track about suicidal thoughts and the loss of friends) and “Going Going Gone” (a song based on relationships and the power struggles that can develop in them). While definitely songs of different vibes, the added depth of these musicians and their skills add another layer to Home Video that helps the album reach another height.
Other highlights on the album include the auto-tune and toxic relationship influenced “Partner in Crime”, “Brando”, a song about a friendship built on pop culture and a feeling of never really getting to know the other person, and “First Time”, a journey through the awkward teen years we’ve all experienced (some more so than others).
Home Video is an album that is a true reflection of growing up. Not all your memories are as clear as you’d hope for them to be, but the ones that are crisp and sharp are the ones you want to keep stored away in your memory, or in your parents home video collection.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Home Video is out Friday 25 June.
Header image credit: Ebru Yildiz