Reviews

Boygenius – Album Review

Boygenius is a group consisting of the three indie rock musicians Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. They call themselves “the boys”, the trio released their self-titled debut EP in 2018 and now brought out the long awaited first Album called “the record”. Finally, we can hear more of their vision and sound. 

Baker, Dacus and Bridgers aren’t your typical band, the way they harmonise and let their different influences flow together is simply unique. So the expectations for the debut album were high considering the amount of singer-songwriter power that comes together in this supergroup. The songs sometimes get carried by one of the artists while in other parts the harmonies of their three voices melt into one beautiful choir. The album has glimpses of every part of the individual artists that fans cherish so much. A record that discovers the meaning of love and friendship in a very vulnerable way.

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus (left to right) Shervin Lainez/boygenius

The opener is an acapella song called “Without You Without Them”. Dacus leads the track about belonging and being able to share you personal stories. Fairytale-like harmonies of the band surround her and lead us softly into this album full of musical diversity. 

The quiet atmosphere is interrupted by the catchy guitar riff that leads into “$20”, one of the earlier released singles. A dramatic feeling is created by the driving sound of drums that layer-up throughout the songs. Similar as in Phobe Bridgers “I Know The End”, we hear her screaming on the intense outro. The song encapsules a feeling of bitterness, trying to get somewhere, a sense of urgency but then not being able to reach this goal or destination… 

“Emily, I’m Sorry” is carried by Phoebe Bridgers and has that beloved indie sound we know from her. Emotional and personal lyrics paired with simple guitars and the addition of Dacus and Bakers harmonies made it a very popular single of the album. It assumingly reflects on Bridgers polyamorous relationship with Emily Bannon and Chris Nelson that ended with many complications. 

On the next Song “True Blue” the trio tells a beautiful story on self-actualization and feeling the love of someone who truly knows you. The love is not perfect, it’s is blue and chaotic. The songwriters take us on a jouney of seperation and finding together again, growing together along the way. The three voices intertwine throughout verses and the chorus while Dacus ties it all together. A bittersweet love song on commitment, and unconditional love in an everchanging life. 

Guitar rhythms sound like waves washing over the floaty words in the quiter song “Cool About It”. The group sounds fragile as they reflect on past relationships, exes and the difficulty of moving on. Every singer has their own verse to share a personal experience that somehow feel like splinters of conversations. “Once I took your medication to know what it’s like. And now I have to act like I can’t read your mind. I ask you how you’re doing and I let you lie.” They all come together in this song, connected by the underlying themes of heartbreak and misunderstanding, that unite all three stories. Trying to keep it all together while the sight is way more painful than you would ever admit to them. 

“Not Strong Enough” is one of the upbeat songs, and definitely one of my favourite songs on the album. Electric guitars, drums and later on synthesizers create a light atmosphere that build up to the bridge. It sounds like a coming of age movie soundtrack for the ultimate main character moment. The vibe is perfectly displayed in the music video. This was shot on a spontaneous daytrip of the supergroup filmed by them on their phones. A genuine picture of their friendship and connection. Bridgers, Dacus and Baker all show the variety of their strong voices here. They all share their thoughts of feeling like the miserable part in a relationship and not enough to be a stronger person. 

Almost dream-like is the sound of “Revolution 0”. Phoebes voice is floating through the room with soft guitars sounds setting the scene. Phoebe often talks about her depression in her songs and interviews. This song feels like she is leading us through her clouded mind, being open about the struggle of not being able to get up and sometimes just wishing to disappear. The verses are short and fragile, symbolizing the mental exhaustion and hopelessness she’s experiencing. In the last verse her voice is distorted, sounds further away like she lost herself or let go… “I used to think if I closed my eyes I’d just disappear.” and then the instrumentals get louder and take over. 

“Leonard Cohen” is a short song about getting to know someone better, revealing secrets and being vulnerable. The beauty of showing your guilty pleasures and hidden parts, even if that maybe makes you seem weird to someone. You showed your true self and that’s courageous. “You felt like an idiot, adding an hour to the drive. But it gave us more time to emberrass ourselves. Telling stories we wouldn’t tell anyone else”. Lucy tells that story on a guitar melody that just sounds like the road trip where you spill secrets and don’t care where the road is taking you because you are so caught up in your conversations. 

“Satanist” brings some rock influences onto this record. All singers made religious references on their past albums and now as boygenius combine different views on the world collectively on this track. Julien is talking about a satanist who would sell their soul to buy their dreams. Phoebe sings about an anarchist who rebels for the better and freedom of the world. While Lucy is talking about Nhilism, which she already talked about in past projects and interviews, she implements a positive view on Nhilism like nothing matters if you just stop caring. The song is a perfect example of the beauty in boygenius, a band that gives freedom to self-expression and perfectly combines the different artists and their styles. 

The friendship of Julien, Phoebe and Lucy is pictured in “We’re In Love”. Simple guitar and piano chords set a base that strings build up on. Their relationship goes deep and throughout the lyrics they mention inside jokes alongside fears and values. They can be open and vulnerable with each other, it helps them bond and create. Lyrics like the ones of boygenius can only come out of a trustful connection. It is a slow genuine song on the trios connection. 

“Anti-Curse” is a song that seems to be inspired by Juliens near drowning experience. She went on a trip with friends and didn’t listen to Phoebe telling her to not go into the water. “Gettin’ deep. I’m out of my depht at a public beach. I never listened, I had to see for myself. It’s coming in waves.” An intense drumbeat is filling the song as Baker describes the felling of swimming back to the shore. 

The artists are known for big finals on their albums, so I had high hopes for the last song on this record. And they absolutely did not disappoint. “Letter To An Old Poet” is a slow piano song with emphasis on the lyrics. The song is about a journey of healing from a toxic relationship. “You think you’re a good person because you won’t punch me in the stomach. And I love you. I don’t know why I just do.” A growing string arrangement carries the track and explores the process of finally regaining self-worth and clarity. “Me and my dog” from the last EP is one of the fans favourite tracks. So, the reference in this song to close off the album made the fanbase more than happy. For the band this older song holds power and importance. They all agreed that an old performance of that song is one of their favourite moments of their career. The sound of fans cheering from that particular concert is integrated in the outro of the album. 

The supergroup managed to create such an intimate record exploring various topics and new sounds. The way they combine all their personal styles and create something new is visionary and works out in the best way. Written with clever metaphors and combining all their musical strengths, boygenius made an appearance into the music industry that will not be forgotten in a long time. 

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