Lucy Dacus Reminds Us That Biological Ties Are Relative on “Thumbs”
Lucy Dacus is a really good friend. Please be my friend, Lucy.
Since the release of her 2018 sophomore album Historian, Lucy Dacus has kept busy with the supergroup boygenius—her collaboration with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers—while also helping them out on their own solo projects. Today, though, we get a new Dacus original called “Thumbs,” which is a crushing slow-burner about the bullshit blood link between horrible family members and the safety net great friendship offers.
On “Thumbs,” Lucy narrates the time a friend’s dad came to visit their college. Dacus’ voice is close and serious as glowing synths emanate in the background. Although we don’t have the full context of these relationships, Dacus captures the severity of her friend’s meeting and the closeness of this college friendship, with the immediate change of energy after an answered phone call in the opening line: “You hung up the phone / And I asked you what was wrong.” After, Dacus assures her friend there’s no requirement to see her estranged father; when her friend feels unable to turn him down, Dacus tags along for support. “He hadn’t seen you since the fifth grade / Now you’re nineteen and you’re 5’8”,” she sings. Now they’re at a bar and this asshole is asking about checks in birthday cards.
“I would kill if you let me / I would kill quick and easy,” she sings chillingly. Later she admires her friend’s eyes, like her father’s, and fantasizes thoughtful violence: “I imagine my thumbs on the irises pressing in / Until they burst.” It’s an unsettling act of kindness, wanting to eradicate any source of pain for a loved one.
Although Dacus is only sharing “Thumbs” officially with the world now, the track has been a part of her setlist for a few 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,” she said in a statement. “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.” Fans kept their word, but created a Twitter account awaiting the day the track would be released. Their last tweet: “Yes!!!!!! Streaming everywhere right now!!!”