Reunited, boygenius navigates intimacy, relationships


‘the record’ was released on March 31 under Interscope Records (Album cover courtesy of Spotify).

Dionte Berry, Editor-in-Chief

Sprouting from the indie scene, the dynamic trio boygenius released their debut album “the record” blending their remarkable storytelling skills, crafts cathartic scenes and aggressive outbursts. 

In 2018, singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers, all known for their solo acts, debuted as boygenius with their self-titled EP. The project, which showcased each member’s strengths as musicians, received critical acclaim.

Since their debut as a power group, the members have individually pushed to the forefront of the indie-alternative music scene.

In 2020, Bridgers released her sophomore Grammy-nominated album “Punisher,” solidifying her status as a star and a stand-out talent. 

Dacus received a lot of attention for her 2018 sophomore album release “Historian,” which lifted the curtain in front of typically guarded emotions and shared her grief with her listeners. In 2021, Dacus found a lighter, catchier sound in her third studio album “Home Video,” a sound that seems to have followed her onto “the record.”

Since the inception of boygenius, Baker has released her third studio album where she sings about overcoming her addiction and focusing on her mental well-being.

Having such strong individual voices while being artists in a similar field, it is not surprising that together they would be viewed as a “supergroup.”

Going in between folk pop and alternative rock, “the record”’s 12-track-long journey is kicked off by “Without You Without Them,” a short and sweet tri-vocal harmony intro into the rest of the project.

The introduction sets the tone for the album, showing listeners this isn’t a Bridgers, Dacus or Baker album—it’s a collaboration. 

The sweet harmonies turn into an alternative rock bite on “$20,” led by Baker, where she takes listeners down a trail of adolescent rebellion. 

What starts as radio alternative rock dives into a more aggressive sound with Bridgers screaming, “I know you have $20” in the distant background. Baker’s carefree verses partnered with Bridgers’ howling toward the end made the song feel like a conversation addressing the idea of relying on one another in relationships.

 Baker sings about the good and reckless times in a relationship, which act as the glue in the relationship, but when circumstances lead to more serious scenarios, the partnership loses its strength.

“True Blue” starts with Dacus’ lead, singing with romantic imagery of a lover. It feels bright but cold, like a winter sunrise. Lyrics like, “I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself” leads me to listen deeper. 

Dacus isn’t just singing about someone she loves but about someone who she finds herself being honest with when she can’t be honest with herself. It’s a real stand-out song. 

“Cool About It” has a folk-pop twang, where all members take turns leading the song. The acoustic guitar backdrop allows their songwriting to be center stage. 

The members take turns diving into intimate imagery. Bridgers sings, “Once, I took your medication to know what it’s like / And now I have to act like I can’t read your mind.”

This line, like many others in the song, holds the listeners close, as the members sing about loving someone who isn’t in a healthy place. 

“Not Strong Enough” flips the script, and the members reflect on their own emotional well-being when they’re in the position where they aren’t present enough to be a supportive partner. 

The climax builds toward the end of the song as the group repeats the mantra, “Always an angel, never a god.” With each repetition, the line becomes more intense. 

The line has a double meaning. It could refer to the person’s ability although they are both revered beings, angels do not have the same power as a god. 

However, the line, “Not strong enough to be your man” in the chorus can imply the perceived difference in strength between genders, as “angel” is feminized, while “god” is seen as masculine. 

“Satanist” leans into a heavier lane of rock and consists of more grungier lyrics with the opening, “Will you be a Satanist with me?”

Multiple verses follow the same format as the opening, but replace “satanist” with “anarchist” and “nihilist.” These lines seem to focus on partnership and the idea of sticking together or having a “ride or die” friend. 

The song starts to deconstruct toward the end but does so after a distorted howl, making for a headbanging climax with a softer outro. I love the contrasting elements, and they work well together.

“Letter To An Old Poet” closes out the song on a solemn note. Led by Bridgers, she focuses on a struggle between her heart and her mind. She knows her partner isn’t good enough for her, but Bridgers finds herself reminiscing on the good moments before she decides to break off the relationship. 

As an ending it feels like a bitter moment of realization, but I love the feeling it leaves for listeners. Bridgers also ends on the line, “I can’t feel it yet / But I am / Waiting.” 

“Letter To An Old Poet” feels like an ending that leads to a new beginning. 

In a combination of such potent voices, nobody gets lost or tossed into the background on “the record.” Bridgers, Dacus and Baker all have a chance to shine. This album does not feel as if it’s an extension of one person’s discography while the others are simply features. 

Listening to “the record” makes me excited to see what they have in store for listeners and for their solo careers. 

In the future, I would like to see boygenius lean into more experimentation and have their personalities more so at the forefront. 

Often, I judge an album by its title and cover before listening, and if I were to judge “the record” without having knowledge of Bridgers, Dacus or Baker, I can’t say I would be eager to give the album an ear.

However, I have prior knowledge of the group and was excited when I even heard news about the members doing photoshoots together for their promo.  

“the record” deserves a 7.5 out of 10. I love to see a group like boygenius come together and truly blend their talents, and I know they will deliver in the future. 

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