Lucy Dacus - Historian
Lucy Dacus is both a reflection of, and a standard bearer, for the fact that really good guitar-driven indie rock can have serious staying power. The death of the style has been heralded for around a decade by now — just think about all the bands from that early-2000s garage rock revival that broke up or put out crappy records towards the end of the aughts. (I’m looking at you, Strokes, Interpol, White Stripes…) But behind the headlines, under the radars, there’s always someone laboring over a tape deck in their bedroom, twisting this tried-and-true format to their desires and turning out something new, exciting, gripping, and fresh. This is the spot that Lucy Dacus occupies right now. Her frank, confessional lyrics combine with the intimate strength of her voice and fuzzed-out riffage to craft guitar pop that feels at once immensely communicative and capacious. On album opener “Night Shift”, she lays down a tale of heartbreak and the resultant cutting off — of people, of emotions — that peaks in a propulsive, distorted Thermals-esque bass line while her compressed vocals soar above it all and strain against the top of her register. It’s effective, compelling song-craft. Dacus flirts with chamber pop throughout the rest of the album, bringing strings and horn sections to bear on the already-sharp songwriting skills she displayed on her well-reviewed debut. While so many other artists mire themselves in the schlocky sludge of expanded orchestration, she uses these flourishes to add even more sincerity to the emotional heft of Historian. The penultimate track, “Pillar of Truth”, introduces a horn section that makes the crescendo to the explosive climax feel all the more stunning and well-earned at the end of the track’s 7-minute runtime. If you’re tired of all the irony and you want some honest, expertly-crafted indie guitar rock, this might just be the best release of 2018 thus far for you. (Juan Carlos)
Check out a track here.