AOTY 2018
Lucy Dacus - Historian
Critic Score
Based on 19 reviews
2018 Ratings: #132 / 706
Year End Rank: #34
User Score
Based on 250 ratings
2018 Ratings: #114
March 2, 2018 / Release Date
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Matador / Label
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CRITIC REVIEWS

90
The 405

Historian is a complete album, cavernous in its emotional depths and regally sophisticated in its songwriting, yet palatably relatable at the point of contact. It’s a work of perfectly realised ambition in which anyone who’s ever waded the swamp of heartache can recognise themselves.

90
Drowned in Sound

You know you have a classic on your hands when, after the umpteenth spin, you start looking for the tour dates, and try to reason your way to a gig. Like the fabled plane of songs, Historian feels like a universe that exists before time, somewhere to reach up to when you need to express something greater than yourself. And Dacus shows us the way, with grace and patience and the quiet confidence of writers twice her age.

90
The Line of Best Fit

As impressive as No Burden was on its own merits, independent of and regardless of its creator’s youth, inexperience, and slapdash conception, Historian is a monolith of American songwriting. Lucy Dacus strikes peerlessly at the core of our emotions at once with wit and gravity, loftiness and plain-spokenness.

90
Spectrum Culture

This is such a strong follow-up statement that it renders even the slightest hint of the proverbial “sophomore slump” null and void. Historian is one of the first truly great albums of 2018.

87
Paste

It’s a rare artist who has a voice so compelling, and rarer still are the ones who learn so early on how to use it. At 23, Dacus has already made a career album with Historian, and she’s really only just getting started.

86
GIGsoup
Each track here contains subtle musical inflections that are almost unbelievable in their execution. Only her sophomore LP, 'Historian', with its myriad, sprawling textures, feels like a seasoned artist's magnum opus -- not a ten-track, forty-seven minute gem whose emotional resonance flirts with the sublime.
85
Under The Radar
The naked crystallized truths she unearths in each song prod the soul intrusively, often instilling those familiar physical jolts inside your chest when severe heartbreak hits.
81
Pitchfork

As Historian adds new elements to Dacus’ music—strings, horns, vocal effects, and spoken word samples appear here alongside guitars, drums, and bass—it also finds the Virginia songwriter plumbing new thematic depths and broadening her stage.

80
Exclaim!
It's an intricate record, one filled with peaks and valleys, high points and low. It gets a little messy at times, but it finds beauty in it all.
80
DIY
Even as Lucy deals with massive topics including death, hope, and major life transitions, she offers listeners entry points back into their own worlds, all while strengthening her already taut grip on rustling, soul-blemished rock.
80
NME
The 10 track ‘Historian’ is far bigger, meatier beast than its predecessor. Recorded in Nashville, this is a rock’n’roll album with deep understanding of pop melody but layered up with bold lyrics which disarm you as much as they connect with you.
80
Rolling Stone

For all its keen lyricism, Historian ultimately floats on a sea of fuzz, rich with small melodic details and the sort of glorious guitar heroics that indie rock is often much too modest for.

80
FLOOD Magazine

Where her first album was an exploration, this one is a proclamation.

75
Northern Transmissions
Though Dacus doesn’t always match expectations or tighten things up, she never fails to create moments worth hearing.
75
A.V. Club

Historian stumbles occasionally, with some songs taking a while to get up the hill, but it’s rewarding because it carries such weight and commands such attention.

70
musicOMH
Lucy Dacus has here achieved what she set out to do, marking her place as a brutally honest songwriter who isn’t afraid to go to the darker sides of humanity to find her truth. Her engaging lyrics remain her true strength. But in her quest to perfect this mission statement, the urgent spark present in her debut has dimmed just a little.
70
AllMusic
Ultimately, the forte passages don't encroach on the songwriting, as they underline emotion, but they do, at times, step on Dacus' voice, when she's clouded by high-volume accompaniment or even vocal processing. Thankfully, those moments are brief and rare, allowing her lyrics and expressive sense of melody to shine.
60
Dork
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.
50
No Ripcord

On its own, Historian is a solid indie rock record: enjoyable, though not particularly memorable. It’s as though Dacus’s best parts have been filtered through a focus group – just imagine what it could have been with the patina scraped off.

EMR
78
"And I fight time
It won in a landslide
I'm just as good as anybody
I'm just as bad as anybody"

American singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus' sophomore LP is one of earnest life and death confrontation, a thorough study of the ups and downs of simple, common individuals, stripped from the usual phallacies that slowly, but steadily flood people's intellects along the way. With an intimacy that remains unshaken since her first big steps in the music world, Dacus' music can feel both ... read more
winitheju
86
Dacus continues to build on her remarkable debut with another great record full of unpredictable twists and turns from the first stanza all the way to the last. Her voice is one of a kind
JohnLouisHoward
98
great lyrics and a great voice. "Night Shift" is an instant classic and the rest of the album is very strong as well. EDIT: bumped up the score after listening on repeat for four months. this is my AOTY for 2018. EDIT 2: almost.
95
'Historian' is a step up from Lucy Dacus's already remarkable debut. She could be a straight-up rock star if she wanted to, but she opts instead to dial it back and let these stories play out their time. What results is a smart, holistic work with velvet production and uniquely gorgeous vocals.
hellodecatur
77
Albums like these make me wish I was someone who attached more importance to lyrics, because I'm guessing my overall experience would be greatly enhanced by more devoted attention to the way Dacus analyzes death and tragedy in her writing. The problem is that if the music isn't interesting enough of an access point to make me want to listen more closely, I often don't feel compelled to devote more time to understanding a deeper layer of the album's concept.

That's not to say Historian is ... read more
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Track List

  1. Night Shift
  2. Addictions
  3. The Shell
  4. Nonbeliever
  5. Yours & Mine
  6. Body to Flame
  7. Timefighter
  8. Next of Kin
  9. Pillar of Truth
  10. Historians
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Added on: December 12, 2017