Song of the Week: Lucy Dacus Delivers a Wrenching Ballad with “Thumbs”

Haviah Mighty, Thundercat, and Rosé also had us bopping our heads this week

Lucy Dacus, photo by Marin Leong
Lucy Dacus, photo by Marin Leong
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Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Lucy Dacus delivered a wrenching ballad that left all of us speechless.

Some songs end and sit in the pit of your stomach for the rest of the day, so visceral and affecting that they can’t be shaken. Lucy Dacus’ raw, devastating new release, “Thumbs”, is such a song, offering a gothic revenge fantasy that lingers long after the four and a half minutes have passed.

Extremely minimal in production, “Thumbs” is also nearly formless, unfolding more like a whispered secret, twilight confession, or piece of local mythos than traditional verses and choruses. It’s a quiet storm, crashing, fading, then crashing back with renewed intensity; the details are unflinching, refusing to let the listener off easy. We may as well be in the bar beside Lucy.

The song is based off of a true story, detailing an encounter the singer-songwriter had years ago. In a statement about the track, she shared: “It tells the story of a day I had with a friend during our freshman year of college, a significant day, but not one that I had thought of for years.” Even if we haven’t undergone an experience exactly like the one she describes, the feelings of live-wire rage, fight-or-flight, and, most importantly, protectiveness for a friend are much more universal.

Almost as remarkable as the song itself is the fact that pre-pandemic Lucy had been playing this song at shows for trio boygenius, of which she makes up a third (alongside Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker). During each show, she would ask the audience not to record the song. Remarkably, the attendees seemed to have listened and kept the song and its story close to their chests. With songwriting so personal, so intimate, and so truthful, it certainly feels like Lucy Dacus has put her trust in each one of us, too.

“You two are connected by pure coincidence/ Connected by blood, but baby it’s all relative …You don’t owe him shit.” 

–Mary Siroky
Contributing Writer


Honorable Mentions

Rosé – “Gone”

 

BLACKPINK’s Rosé has unveiled two new solo songs titled “On the Ground” and “Gone”. Together, the singles make up the K-Pop sensation’s debut solo project, R, which she announced earlier this month. Back in January, Rosé gave fans their first taste of her work as an individual when she performed “Gone” during BLACKPINK’s triumphant livestream concert, The Show. She had been teasing an impending solo project since June of last year, and then on the March 1st she finally announced the release and began dropping clips of the “On the Ground” music video. Now both of them have finally arrived in full, and fans of BLACKPINK’s neon K-Pop will certainly appreciate their sound and style. The 24-year-old superstar is still riding the high of her group’s massively successful 2020 record, The Album, but these songs also prove that she’s a venerable solo performer in her own right. -Eli Enis

Jorja Smith – “Addicted”

Jorja Smith is back with an irresistible new track called “Addicted”. It marks Smith’s first single of 2021. Musing in the atmosphere of a hazy beat punctuated with live guitars, the song is as alluring as a siren. Which is fitting, since the lyrics call for a lover to recognize how good they have it and “be addicted to me.” In a press statement explaining the track, Smith noted it’s about “focusing on wanting the full attention of someone who’s not giving enough (or any) when they should be.” “Addicted” comes with a self-directed video (with help from Savanah Leaf) shot from a computer’s webcam while Smith finds different ‘gramable locations around her English abode. “The video is multiple versions of me singing the song,” she added in her statement, “having fun dressing up, not trying to be too serious and just giving myself more freedom.” –Ben Kaye

Twin Shadow – “Johnny & Jonnie”

Following a string of 2019 singles that included “Crushed”, “Truly”, and “Only for the Broken-Hearted”, Twin Shadow took much of the last year off. (Can you really blame him?) Now, however, George Lewis Jr. is set to return with a revitalized sound, as demonstrated on his new single “Johnny & Jonnie”. If “Broken-Hearted” was a journey towards a more island-ready iteration of Twin Shadow’s synth pop, “Johnny & Jonnie” finds him entirely moved into the tropics. With melodica riding over waves of electronics that would make Gorillaz groove, the track finds Lewis Jr. wanting to escape his Los Angeles home for — not the beaches of Bora Bora, but the musicality of Louisiana. “This city too violent/ Let’s get to New Orleans,” he sings. “Get me to the Quarter/ Texas in our way.” (Seems like Texas is in everyone’s way these days, huh?) According to a press release, the new track serves as an early tease of Twin Shadow’s forthcoming full-length. –Ben Kaye

Haviah Mighty – “Good on My Own Tonight” (Feat. TOBi)

Haviah Mighty’s debut album, 13th Floor, won the 2019 Polaris Prize for best full-length Canadian album. Having already charmed our neighbors to the north, the Toronto MC is now poised to conquer the world. Her music is equal parts smart and fun —  she raps for stoners who underline the best parts of books, for people who tear up the dance floor and then argue about politics on the way home. There’s no tension between intellectualism and joy in her music, and her awareness of the darkness in the world only pushes her to relish the light.

Over the last four months, Mighty has been on one of the great singles runs in recent memory. She dove into the slave trade on  “Atlantic”, hit the grind on her own on “Antisocial”, and channeled her Caribbean heritage on “Obeah”. With “Good on My Own Tonight”, she and her collaborator TOBi (whose “24 (Toronto Remix)” features Mighty) finally decide to put themselves first. The new song “focuses on the moment of clarity when you realize that you’re better off on your own,” Mighty says. She co-produced alongside Mighty Prynce, and the beat reflects her eclectic approach to music. The backing track swells and recedes, strips down to spaced-out essentials and then revels in complexity once again. –Wren Graves

Thundercat & Ace Hashimoto – “VAPORWAVES”

Chicago-born producer and singer Ace Hashimoto has recruited fellow multi-hyphenate Thundercat for his new song “VAPORWAVES”. The breezy track has a funky bassline and features Hashimoto and Thundercat contemplating the meaning of life. “After the end of the world, when it’s all said and done,” Hashimoto sings. “There’s no sign of life, but somehow life will still carry on/ Could it mean our existence not grand as we thought?”

Hashimoto originally released “VAPORWAVES” earlier this week as an exclusive on his Patreon page, and warned fans it would only be available on YouTube “for a limited time only.” In a lengthy update, the musician shared his inspiration for the song. “This song is about existential crisis and I believe it was that concept that led me to feeling free enough to do things I’ve always wanted to do, while also being even more grateful for the things I CAN do,” he wrote. “Basically, be aware of your own mortality. Remember, we’re all just human. And tell the people you care about, ‘I’m happy to have you in my life.'” –Eddie Fu

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