Album review: the record -boygenius 

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The cover of boygenius’s latest album, the record. The album cover features the hands of the band members. (Photo courtesy of Clara Davis)

About boygenius

The indie rock trio, boygenius, dropped their first album, titled the record, on March 31, 2023. 

The band, consisting of  Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker, formed in 2018. They dropped their self-named debut EP the same year. 

The record was highly anticipated by fans of the alternative supergroup, who had gained traction in the last five years between the release of their first EP and the record, due to the increasing popularity of the individual members of the band. 

All three band members released their own albums between the release of their first EP and the record, most notably Phoebe Bridgers’ sophomore album, Punisher, including the Grammy-nominated single Kyoto.

The artists all have unique styles, but their collective friendship brought them together to form a band that incorporates all of their individual styles to create the perfect sound. 

The record 

Clocking in at forty-two minutes, the record is composed of twelve tracks. 

  1. Without You Without Them
  2. $20
  3. Emily I’m Sorry
  4. True Blue
  5. Cool About It
  6. Not Strong Enough
  7. Revolution 0
  8. Leonard Cohen
  9. Satanist
  10. We’re In Love
  11. Anti-Curse
  12. Letter To An Old Poet

 

The music that boygenius creates features the meticulous harmony formed between the artist’s voices. All three artists have extremely distinct sounds, from the breathy render of Phoebe Bridgers to the rich carol of Lucy Dacus. Together the artists are able to blend their voices together with extreme delicacy, weaving their powerful lyrics together into a smooth and complimentary sound. 

“What I love about boygenius is the way that each of those artists collaborate,” said Stephen Shingler, art teacher at Leesville and fan of boygenius. “What’s great is how layered the talent is.”

That being said, the most compelling element of the record is the lyrics of each distinctive track. Lucy Dacus, described as “the brain” of the group, is referred to as “one of indie rock’s finest songwriters”. Dacus’s poetic tendencies are undoubtedly present in the record, resulting in lyrics that incorporate the stories and experiences of all three artists, while still maintaining Dacus’s unique style of wording. 

The strong lyrics of the record also help support the themes woven throughout the twelve tracks. 

Many of the songs that boygenius creates reference both internal and external struggle as it relates to being queer. All three women in the band identify as queer, and the record expresses that

[Julien] Baker grew up gay in an evangelical household in Memphis, according to an article by Rolling Stone.  Since many evangelicals disapprove of being queer, Baker opens up in her music about the struggles she went through while fighting between her identity and the beliefs she had been raised with. 

“Emily I’m Sorry” is the current most popular track from the record, and provides fans with insight into Bridger’s past romantic relationship with voice-actress Emilly Bannon. Bridgers has been extremely vocal about her sexuality as a bisexual woman for some time, but “Emily I’m Sorry” is the first song Bridgers has shared that stems from a queer relationship.

Along with that, the band tackles sexism. “A ‘boygenius’ is someone who their whole life has been told that their ideas are genius,” Bridgers said when asked about the origin of the band name in an interview with Vogue.  “Men are taught to be entitled to space and that their ideas should be heard because they’re great ideas and women are taught the opposite.”

In addition to the ironic name of the band that addresses sexism, boygenius writes about sexism in their songs as well. The sixth track on the album, “Not Strong Enough,” includes the lyrics “Always an angel, never a god.” The lyrics convey the unequal rank between men and women, with women constantly being seen as less powerful or important than men, just like the difference between angels and gods. 

The songs

The album has a bit of everything to offer in terms of song selection. It begins with a simple ballad, Without You Without Them”, cutting off at a meager one minute and twenty seconds. The song lacks any instruments and eerily focuses on the simple harmonization of the band members’ voices as they sing about wanting to let someone know them, saying “I want you to hear my story and be a part of it.”

After Without You Without Them, the album jarringly jumps into “$20”, a rock song taking strongly after Baker’s alternative rock style. “$20” descends into a crescendo of increasingly frantic drum beats and layers of overlapping voices, climaxing with the repeated lyrics “I know you have twenty dollars”, screamed by Bridgers. 

Another track that stands out on the album is “True Blue”. The sentimental song describes an unconditionally loyal friendship, including lines such as “I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself” and “I remember who I am when I’m with you”. The track fits perfectly in the album, mostly about each of the artist’s individual experiences, by binding the artists together through the description of their close-knit relationship with each other.

“My favorite song on the album changes a lot, but currently it is ‘True Blue’,” said Kira Dugdell, sophomore, and boygenius enthusiast. “I like a where I can hear my feelings and experiences understood and written so beautifully.”

The final track of the album, Letter To An Old Poet, concludes the album with a powerful song that revisits the track from boygenius’s debut EP, Me & My Dog. There are undeniable parallels connecting the two tracks, between the composition and the lyrics themselves. Led by Phoebe Bridgers, the band concludes the tragic story of sick longing from “Me & My Dog” with a righteous release in the form of “Letter To An Old Poet”. 

“‘Letter To An Old Poet’ is about when someone has so much power over you, they stop being a person,” Phoebe Bridgers said in an interview with Rolling Stone

Me & My Dog: 

I want to be emaciated, 

I want to hear one song without thinking of you. 

I wish I was on a spaceship, 

Just me & my dog,

And an impossible view.

I dream about it, 

And I wake up falling.

 

Letter To An Old Poet: 

I want to be happy. 

I’m ready to walk into my room without looking for you. 

I’ll go up to the top of our building, 

And remember my dog when I see the full moon.

I can’t feel it yet,

But I am waiting.

 

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