On ‘The Record’: Supergroup Boygenius’ debut album
Anna Falk | Monday, April 17, 2023
Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker have made incredible music as individual artists. As the supergroup Boygenius, they are unstoppable. The trio had previously released a self-titled EP in 2018, a six-track collection of lyrically masterful, gut-wrenching ballads which was well-received by fans and critics alike. With their limited yet addictive discography, fans craved new work. Five years later, they’ve delivered again. On March 31, Boygenius released its debut LP simply titled “The Record.”
This supergroup may be young, but they are by no means immature in their sound. The album moves between styles with ease. Tracks like “$20” and “Satanist” show the band’s devotion to rock classics, backed with thrumming electric guitars and interspersed with cathartic, screaming vocals. Others like “Letter To An Old Poet” and “We’re In Love” fit more with the “sad-girl” aesthetic, blending soothing vocals and piano to create tear-jerking melodies. “Cool About It” and “Leonard Cohen” appeal to lovers of folk and acoustic guitars.
Bridgers, Dacus and Baker also prove to be superlative lyricists. “The Record” discusses various themes, though romance is especially prevalent. The trio cover the emotional spectrum of a relationship — change, vulnerability, rebellion, intimacy and more. While confessional songwriting is not a poetry preferred by all, they find the power of the ordinary in their storytelling. Their words are specific, pointed and reek of verisimilitude. Expressions of the everyday transform into impactful symbols of emotional affect. The lyric “I might like you less now that you know me so well” from “Leonard Cohen” is an example of this, showcasing in a simple statement the conflict between self-preservation and emotional intimacy in a conversation between Dacus and her partner. “And it feels good to be known so well / I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself” in “True Blue” illustrates similar themes in a different context, emphasizing the difficulties of this intimacy (even with one’s self) while reconciling with the beauty of being known by another person in this way.
Conflict ultimately characterizes “The Record.” Intrapersonal and interpersonal turmoils are explored throughout the LP, reflected in the changing musical styles. The collective genius of Boygenius prevails in “The Record,” but their nature as collaborators seems to fail in moments. With the knowledge of each artist’s discography, one can easily pick out who had the heaviest hand in the creation of each track. Lyrically and sonically, they have their preferences, and it is evident. Bridgers tends to stick to more somber, soft guitar songs, Dacus pairs strong, emotionally evocative vocals with strummed melodies and Baker tends more towards the power of strong drums and the electric guitar. Their self-titled EP displays a greater ability to melt their sounds together without losing ingenuity or intensity.
Bridgers may be the most well-known of the trio due to her more recent rise in fame as a result of collaborations with more mainstream artists like Taylor Swift and SZA, but their work demands attention to the discographies of all three. The demands of creative freedom make supergroups a rare sighting in the music industry, but they prove to be strong and powerful forces capable of unimaginable success. Boygenius continues to amass followers as time goes on, and there is no sign of stopping. With their appearances at music festivals around the world and their impending tour, there is no telling where Boygenius will be by the end of this year. Hopefully, they’ll be getting the recognition from the mainstream that they deserve.
Album: “The Record”
Favorite tracks: “Not Strong Enough,” “Leonard Cohen,” “Satanist”
Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5