Boygenius lives up to its name in new album

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus come together once again to produce “the record”



Boygenius has once again created a cohesive album that amplifies the talent of each individual member.

Annie Welman, Editor-in-Chief

“Emily I’m sorry” is the song that started it all. After Phoebe Bridgers finished her most recent album, she sent a draft of the song to the rest of the group and asked if they could be a band once again. The album that followed was a true joy to listen to.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Boygenius trio, now is a great time to dive into the music of this indie folk rock supergroup. Despite having three different members who spend most of their time as stand-alone artists, Boygenius music feels balanced and natural. None of the artists dominate, and each is given their own time to shine. 

Older fans may know that they pulled together their first EP in a matter of days back in 2018, but “the record” shows just how enthralling they can become with more time. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my initial favorite songs were the ones that had already been released as album teasers: “$20,” “Emily I’m Sorry,” “True Blue” and “Not Strong Enough.” That said, I’m not sure if these are truly my favorites, or simply the songs that I have spent the most time with. Albums almost always grow on me gradually, and rarely take hold of me on first listen. The same was true for “the record,” though it didn’t take long for me to attach myself to the new songs as well, listening to them on repeat. 

Unlike some recent albums that feel like a collection of songs spliced together, each with choruses that are marketable on TikTok, “the record” feels like an intentional sequence of songs. Beginning with a clever transition from the folky, stripped back “Without You Without Them” to the intense, heavy “$20” rock sound, the order feels thoughtful and smooth.

In the first three singles, for instance, each song has a distinct leader. Julien Baker sticks to her recognizable style in “$20,” which was a head-banging single to lead with. According to Baker, “$20” seeks to encapsulate the feeling of  “hitchhikers in San Francisco, just some buds hanging out…” 

Then, Bridgers showcases her classic soft, candid lyrics in “Emily I’m Sorry,” the second single. To complete the first collection of songs, Lucy Dacus follows with my current favorite of the three, “True Blue.” Though I’m least familiar with Dacus’s individual music, this song is stunning, both lyrically and melodically.

Sticking to the album intentionality, the next songs slide into a more collaborative style. They are filled with “democratic fun,” as a Variety article put it. “Cool About It” is a lovely example of this, with each artist taking a verse for themselves, and then joining together in the background. Accompanied by minimal instrumentals and broken cleanly into three parts, it’s hard to imagine another group doing this song justice. With verses traded between artists and harmonies layered together, the shared songs are just as charming as the first singles, if not as distinctly memorable. 

Another thing that adds charm to the album is the evident connection between the artists. Showcased in the video for “Not Strong Enough,” the trio appears to sincerely enjoy each other’s company. This video, which is paired with a 14 minute film for the other singles, is simply a compilation of causal, joyous moments they spent together. Not to mention the group make out session in the film, these artists have a clear bond that shows up in their blended, beautiful music. 

There could be a whole other article written about the film, which was directed by Kristen Stewart. “The Film,” which is its actual title, was described as a “lesbian dreamscape” and a “way to make the lesbians go berserk” by various queer blogs. Despite these bold declarations, we can never be sure if the people in the spotlight are truly close. If these three are putting on a charade of affection, though, they are certainly doing so convincingly. 

Along with affection for one another, the 12 songs on “the record” express care for and knowledge of others in the music world. The trio loves to pack in references, some more subtle than others. For instance, the melody of the beginning verse in “Cool About It” mimics “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel, and the first lyric of “Not Strong Enough” references a Cure song. Nothing is quite as on the nose as the song title “Leonard Cohen,” a direct reference before the lyrics begin.

Even the name of the band is a reference, this time to music culture more broadly. The name “Boygenius” pokes fun at male artists who are often considered divinely talented. In doing so, the trio seems to claim that “genius” for themselves. 

Looking back on “the record” as a whole, it is clear why it received overwhelmingly positive reviews. There are times when I felt like the album and music videos rocked back and forth between pretentiously unpolished and wonderfully raw, but I nearly always ended up believing the latter. In the end, their cleverness and affection for each other push me over the edge. “The record” is an album you can listen to all the way through, made up of artists that blend together with remarkable ease.