I JUST DRANK A TANK OF GAS — the compelling pocket universe of LUCY
Most people you pass on the street have learned to put up a front informed by their life experience: a default state that doesn’t show their true nature, their desire, or their innermost thoughts. But the truth is, it’s exactly that: a flimsy front. None of us have this thing called life quite figured out. Neither does Cooper B Handy from Cape Cod Massachusetts, who records under the moniker LUCY (which is actually an acronym for Love Unity Communication Yes?).
As goofy, hilarious, and wide-eyed as his bedroom pop seems initially, there is also something super vulnerable about his music. LUCY’s lyricism is unafraid to be random, too far out of its own depth, cliché, open-hearted, mundane, and self-contradicting. But on top of everything, it’s LUCY being honest with himself and his internal thought process, not bothering to edit himself or add any ironic smarminess to the words. Oftentimes, his expressions sound platitudinal and self-apparent, to an extent where normally one would answer with a sarcastic ‘no shit’. But the wholesome conviction in his dorky, boyish delivery is often so entertaining that you just go ‘aw shucks’.
I was first introduced to LUCY through the fantastic EP he produced with Lily Konigsberg, Laugh Now Cry L8r. “No one belongs to no one / In this crazy game of love” is the kind of Drake-esque nugget that can make any spell of heartbreak feel like a sitcom sequence. His latest album The Music Industry Is Poisonous is jam-packed with these types of amusing moments. He sings the line “I just drank a tank of gas” on ‘Rock, The’ with clear acerbic intent, and you truly believe he means it as he glares straight at the camera with, well, a tank of gas. Nevertheless, it’s the funniest thing ever without specifically intending for it to be that way. It’s the stuff memes are made of, which made me wonder why it hasn’t gone viral.
I think what makes LUCY’s music so addicting is just the purest of intent in which it is made. The illuminating brilliance that pops up in his stream-of-conscious lyrics feels like stumbling on a suitcase of heist money by accident instead of something carefully contrived or manufactured. But I also feel that dismissing the music as ‘accidentally brilliant’ sells LUCY way short and is patronizing. As he said in this interview, his music isn’t intentionally meant to be a joke, which makes it even more compelling. His beats are shrewdly fantastic and after a few more careful listens across the brief 14-minutes of The Music Industry Is Poisonous, each terrible-but-with-religious-fervor-sung ad-lib you discover draws a hearty chuckle. The replay value of this album is simply immense for its length, and it’s incredible how LUCY is able to make songs clocking in under two minutes feel complete.
I think the overarching reason why I’m so in love with LUCY’s music is that it feels like you’re just hanging out with the guy, and not worrying about making sense or pretending you have it all figured out. We often look to pop music for reassurance or big emboldened statements, and if there’s any sort of irony to speak of in the pocket universe LUCY has created, that same reassurance comes from music wholeheartedly believing in its own commonplaceness and confusion. As the man himself sings casually in the background on ‘Believe’: just fucking around. And truth be told: aren’t we all?