|Add Date:||2018-04-08|| ||Pull Date:||2018-06-10|| |
|Week Ending:||20 May||13 May||6 May||29 Apr||22 Apr||15 Apr|
Lucy Dacus blew up in 2016, and with good reason: She’s one of the warmest and most affecting songwriters in indie rock, and her sophomore album Historian is one of the best collections of songs of the new year. This album is an exercise in great fundamentals: There’s very few wild guitar solos (there’s one in the first track, and nothing else comes close to it), but the songwriting and Dacus’ lyrics are top-notch. Rather than overextend themselves with fancy displays of technical virtuosity, these songs stick to the basic elements and do them very, very well. Throw on pretty much any track. (I don’t usually do “RIYL,” but you’ll love this record if you’re a fan of Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, Julien Baker, or Neko Case.)|
Favorites: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9
1) “Night Shift” (6:32) – FCC “b****.” (If this word won’t trigger an FCC violation, play this song like you would a favorite, because it’s one of the best songs of the year so far.) This song is almost like two in one: It’s a soft, slow-burning number that turns into something else at the halfway mark. The song really takes off after the four-minute mark, Dacus starts howling over a volcanic, distorted guitar solo.
2) “Addictions” (3:25)* – Distorted guitar in the refrains and at the end of the song. Steady, powerful drumming and flashes of trumpets. Even with all these loud elements, for the most part, it’s a relatively restrained song. Abrupt ending.
3) “The Shell” (4:38)* – Song doesn’t really start until 0:20. A brooding number that’s mostly Dacus strumming a clean guitar over drums and a powerful bass, with a cathartic increase in volume at 2:37.
4) “Nonbeliever” (3:41) – A song about shedding old identities—religious identities, small-town identities, etc. The violin-led first minute quickly shifts into guitar-driven rock.
5) “Yours and Mine” (5:15)* – The song has a bit of a countryish swing to it, and it starts to pick up after the first minute and a half. From there the song slowly builds in intensity, climaxing with a well-mannered guitar solo after the four-minute mark. Vocals, which sound like they’re detailing a protest, have a singalong feel.
6) “Body to Flame” (3:07) – The first half of the song is a quieter affair with clean guitar and strings, but there’s a pretty jarring transition into the second half; the drums and guitar get more intense, and the strings start to sound dissonant. It’s probably the only moment on the album that doesn’t sit well with me.
7) “Timefighter” (5:49)* – A slow and lumbering song. The distorted bass gives way to a lovely, warm guitar and swells of organ. There are some distorted guitar solos after the three-minute mark through the rest of the song. Abrupt ending.
8) “Next of Kin” (4:07)* – Unlike some of the preceding songs, this song is straightforward and doesn’t throw in any wild transitions at the halfway point. It’s just good old-fashioned indie rock with crunchy guitar riffs, though it does slow down for a pretty arresting coda in the last half-minute of the song.
9) “Pillar of Truth” (7:15) – Okay, I’ve already used “slow burn” to describe another song in this review, but damn, this song is a slow burner. It’s just Dacus and her guitar for the first two and a half minutes. Then the song unfolds into a fuller, soulful affair with country-tinged guitars, horns, and organ. Dacus wrote the song about her dying grandmother, and it’s beautiful and intense, especially right before the end.
10) “Historians” (3:57) – The quietest song on the album, it’s foregrounded by Dacus’ plaintive singing over an orchestra. A slow and somber conclusion.