Dork Radio
Now playing:
In the mag...
Featuring Foals, King Nun, Pumarosa, Feet and loads more.
Order a copy
November 2019
Review

Lucy Dacus - Historian

‘Night Shift’’s anger, confronts death while alive with possibilities.
Lucy Dacus - Historian
Published: 10:54 am, February 28, 2018
‘Night Shift’’s anger, confronts death while alive with possibilities.

Label: Matador Records
Released: 2nd March 2018
Rating: ★★★

Take a look at the cover of ‘Historian’. There are mountains, and, apparently floating high above them, there’s a figure, holding a red balloon between their teeth. But they could be falling - plummeting earthward, vainly clinging on. It fits this cautiously buoyant, downbeat but driven album perfectly.

If the Richmond, Virginia-based artist’s first album - 2016’s ‘No Burden’ - was made because she could, seizing the opportunity of an open day at a Nashville studio, quickly assembling a band, ‘Historian’ is "the album I needed to make", according to Dacus. And it shows. It’s a dark but graceful rock album - or perhaps a heavy singer-songwriter one - with songs that are at times intensely, almost uncomfortably personal.

But, “hope survives, even in the face of the worst stuff”, and even in its darkest moments, silvery shreds of optimism shine. The opening ‘Night Shift’ - a breakup song of two distinct halves - is a perfect example. Starting as frustrated, futile dissection (“Am I a masochist, resisting urges to punch you in the teeth / Call you a bitch and leave?”) over sparse, strummed guitar, Dacus takes a sudden sharp right, into a tumbling, fuzzy and valiant refrain - “You got a 9 to 5, so I’ll take the night shift/And I’ll never see you again if I can help it.”

Leaving aside the musical surprises - the way ‘Body To Flame’ lurches from gentle waltz into atonal angularity, or the thick, over-saturated guitar solo that punctuates ‘Yours and Mine’ - and her deep, rich voice, Dacus is a great lyric writer, and ‘Historian’ is peppered with memorable lines.

‘Night Shift’ expresses her intent to leave behind the breakup - and that version of herself - neatly (“In five years I hope the songs feel like covers/Dedicated to new lovers”). ‘The Shell’ deals with regret and feelings of emptiness candidly - “If the body and the life were two things that we could divide / I’d deliver up my shell to be filled with somebody else” - while the band pile in, the music still aiming skyward even as everything falls apart.

And finally, the tender title track, the words of a character who’s moved far away from ‘Night Shift’’s anger, confronts death while alive with possibilities, suggesting that new stories are about to written - “I'll be your historian, and you'll be mine / Then one day the motorcade... will come to take one of us away / leaving the other with plenty to read.” Rob Mesure

Give all this a try

Foals: Extinction Rebels
Feature

Foals: Extinction Rebels

Nearly 15 years after forming, Foals have just released their most outward-looking record to date, heralding a new era of social accountability, visceral lyrics and a commitment to saving our dying planet. That's if Yannis doesn't do himself another mischief first…
Pumarosa dive headfirst into an exciting new future
Feature

Pumarosa dive headfirst into an exciting new future

Their debut album ‘The Witch’ was a critical darling, but with its arrival came news that changed everything for Pumarosa. Now back with a second album which rips up expectation; they’re a band reborn.
Watch The 1975 debut 'Frail State of Mind' live
Watch

Watch The 1975 debut 'Frail State of Mind' live

'The lads' gave their latest 'Notes on a Conditional Form' cut a first airing last night.
Matt Maltese: "It was a mix of not giving a fuck, but also really giving a fuck"
Feature

Matt Maltese: "It was a mix of not giving a fuck, but also really giving a fuck"

Matt Maltese on album number two, and embracing the ballad.
Like this? Subscribe to Dork and get every issue delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet.
CONTACT PRIVACY ADVERTISE

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing