Jenny Lewis: “Psychos”

Jenny Lewis has had the laid-back folk rocker “Psychos” kicking around since at least summer 2019, when she performed the song with her band in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The studio version opens her upcoming album Joy’all with a familiar story of a small-town misfit who finds redemption in rock’n’roll. Seems innocuous enough. But it gets worse. In the verses, Lewis sketches a superstitious, self-aggrandizing figure, an eccentric haircut in—I have to imagine—an ugly jacket who rates his level of inner turmoil on par with Jesus vs. Satan and fantasizes about manipulating life like a video game. The chorus is skeptical: “How can I help you?” Lewis asks, not making any sudden moves.

“I’m not a psycho,” this shady character insists, and because it never ends there, “I’m just tryna get laid.” Whoa buddy! The outburst calls up a line from Lewis’ 2021 single “Puppy and a Truck,” a cheerful how-to guide for surviving midlife romantic disaster: “I was infatuated with an older man/And then I dated a psychopath.” She’s wisened up now though, and she’ll help you spot these guys coming from a mile away; think of “Psychos” as your portable telescope.