Lucy Dacus, Boygenius member, queer indie folk icon and part of my list of mommis who could wreck me, just released a new single called “Thumbs.” The song has actually been a huge fan favorite; the previously unreleased track was a staple in her live shows and has amassed such a following that there’s a whole Twitter account dedicated to it. (It’s called “Has Lucy released Thumbs yet?” and it’s great.)
As Paste Magazine writes, “the song finds her recalling a harrowing encounter over oceanic synth and mellotron.” Dacus was the same person who wrote these words on “Night Shift”: “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit, I had a coughing fit,” so you can imagine the kind of lyrical intensity that’s on the track.
“Like most songs I write, I wasn’t expecting it and it made me feel weird, almost sick,” Dacus says of her songwriting process. “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. I started playing it live a month or so later during the Boygenius tour after Phoebe and Julien encouraged me to. I knew I wanted a long time to get used to playing it since it made me feel shaky, so I ended sets with it for about half the shows I played in 2019. Before I played it, I would ask the audience to please not record it, a request that seems to have been respected, which I’m grateful for.”
In the song, Dacus’ friend has to meet their absent father, and Dacus accompanies them as emotional support. The dad’s sliminess just oozes off the page, and you hear Dacus’ inner monologue: “I would kill him if you let me. I would kill him quick and easy. Your nails are digging into my knee. I don’t know how you keep smiling.” I can see why this track kills live. As someone who’s been in the same situation with the roles reversed (welcome to the deadbeat dad club), hearing the line “You don’t owe him shit even if he said you did” is extremely cathartic and reaffirming.
It’s not like we’re in short supply of songs about bad fathers, I know. But this is the first one I’ve heard from an outsider perspective that doesn’t feel cloying or woefully misses the point (a.k.a. all of the sadboy songs about saving girlfriends because they’re hot and broken). Dacus on here really feels like your best friend seething for you because you can’t let yourself do it yet, and she’s delicately helping us untangle our daddy issues while also baring her teeth at the bad men that hurt us.
If “Thumbs” is anything to go by, I can’t wait to have another album to cry and stare at the ceiling to. Has Lucy Dacus released her new album yet? No, but I already need it.
Header photo courtesy of Marin Leong via Love Da Records