Review: the record by boygenius
By Dianne Miranda, April 25 2023—
Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker — the trinity of incredibly talented singer-songwriters who have individually made their mark as household names in the indie-rock scene come together again for a full-length album called the record released on March 31. the record is proving to be an instant hit, no-skip, in-your-feels album that allows listeners to feel the vulnerability and over-pouring love that flows seamlessly through each song.
The album is 12 tracks, with each artist taking the lead on four songs, while the other two provide beautiful unifying harmonies. Each song never fails to highlight the individuality that is consistent and reminiscent of their respective songs and albums. Dacus with her soul-crushing craftsmanship of lyricism, Bridgers’ undeniable ability to drag listeners into an oscillating journey of organized chaos and sincerity and Baker’s piercing yet delicate powerhouse vocals. At the same time, as a collective, there is a deep emotionally evocative hole, created by their attempts to translate emotions into lyrics and melodies that listeners will inevitably fall into. The melodies they create are like three different keys unlocking the same lock.
When they come together, as seen in this album, they become an entity that is unpredictable, dangerous, bright and bold with undeniable chemistry transcending the typical supergroup anatomy. boygenius is the definition of an unbreakable friendship — this pact between three soulmates — and deep-rooted mutual respect and admiration. The album is the musical embodiment of if we completely let go and let the world truly see us as we are. At its core, the record feels like a union that only is becoming more cemented in deeper understanding, despite moments of unsteady and necessary in-joke pauses such as the playful snapshots of friendship in “Leonard Cohen.”
The album opens with a haunting, honest acapella of “Without You Without Them” that seems to serve as the thesis of the whole album — a collective search of identity found in friendships and the how’s and why’s of this transformative love and closeness. The next three songs that follow are “$20,” “Emily I’m Sorry” and “True Blue” which are all products of solo writing. These songs were released on March 1 as three different singles preceding the album release. Tones of desperate compulsion, regret and shame and authenticity flood these songs.
Each change of song is a journey where listeners can only anticipate what happens next. Listeners see this in the switches from the air-guitar rift, heavy bass and synth rock banger “Anti-Curse” that speaks of personal reckoning or the 90s alt-rock style guitar riffs in “Satanist” as Baker petitions listeners to sell their souls — to contemplative acoustic whispers of moving on from a terrible crush of “Letter To An Old Poet” or the tender song “We’re In Love” where Dacus attempts to piece broken stories together.
“Not Strong Enough” with its iconic repeated bridge, “always an angel, never a god” is a perfect precision of feelings of yearning, shame, uncertainty and self-consciousness which are often not-visible struggles. The self-shot music video juxtaposes the carelessly joyful scenes of the three and the struggles in the journey of self-searching evident in the lyrics.
If listeners’ floodgates of tears have not opened yet by the banjo-driven “Cool About It” and its different stories of post-breakup meetings, then Bridgers’ question of, “if it isn’t love, then what the fuck is it?” in “Revolution 0” will inevitably release such gates. In this acoustic ballad, Bridgers exhaustingly ponders the purpose of love.
the record is a well-crafted album that takes listeners by their hands on a journey of exploring oneself’s deepest bare truths. In their togetherness, however, there is a strength that is demonstrated. boygenius leaves no questions or second-guessing about where they stand. the record offers much more than each artist’s parts despite them being extremely talented on their own and them continuing to reach new heights. If you need an album to listen to cry your heart out and leave you in a state of heartbreak and pain for a week (or more), the record is perfect.