All female, indie-rock trio boygenius released their sophomore album at midnight on March 31. Smartly titled “The Record,” this is the band’s first official album release since their debut self-titled EP in 2018. Boygenius consists of three solo recording artists, Julien Baker (27), Lucy Dacus (27) and Phoebe Bridgers (28). The trio agree that there is no front person to boygenius, with all three members contributing to lyrics, instrumentals and overall decision making. In an interview with Rolling Stone back in January, Bridgers remarks, “we all get to be the lead. We all get the high of each other being in the front, which is so sick and has been the ethos of this band since day one.” In a 2018 interview, Vogue introduced the group as “cool girls,” an interesting comment when juxtaposed with their self proclaimed masculine group name. Lucy Dacus is quoted by the same publication in May of last year stating “the fact that we’re women is kind of the most boring thing that I could think of.” This social commentary on gender roles is consistent throughout their discography. In “The Record” in the song “Not Strong Enough,” the trio refers to themselves as men and sing repeatedly “always an angel, never a god,” alluding to the idea that God is a man, while women are subservient on the religious hierarchy, reserved to only being an angel.
“The Record” has been teased slowly with an EP of the same name consisting of four singles; “20$,” “Emily I’m Sorry,” and “True Blue” and “Not Strong Enough.” The highly anticipated album has 12 tracks with the total runtime being 42 minutes. The story begins with an 80 second a capella opening track entitled “Without You Without Them.” This short prelude sets the tone for the album, welcoming fans to understand the personal stories that inspired the tracks that follow, with the trio singing together “I’ll give everything I’ve got. Please, take what I can give. I want you to hear my story and bе a part of it.” Following this is the three aforementioned singles, two of which feature rock-adjacent, upbeat vocals and instrumentation fans know and love from the band. “True Blue” stands out as a personal favorite with the lyrics, “you say you’re a winter bitch, but summer’s in your blood. You can’t help but become the sun,” painting this idea of knowing someone better than they are able to currently see themselves.
Track 5, “Cool About It,” will prove to become a new fan favorite. Featuring notable lines like the humorous, “make fun of the cowboys with neck tattoos,” to gripping lyrics like, “I took your medication to know what it’s like and now, I have to act like I can’t read your mind. I ask you how you’re doing and I let you lie,” there’s something for everyone to take away. The honesty showcased through the band’s songwriting is visible even on the less mellow, more indie-rock tracks. It is easy to recognize Baker’s influence on certain tracks such as “Satanist” or “Anti-Curse,” which both spotlight religious allusions and guitar riffs, a Julien Baker specialty.
The 8th track on the album is ironically titled “Leonard Cohen” after the Canadian singer and depicts the trio’s budding relationships with each other during a road trip. A true platonic love letter about their bond, the song concludes with them harmonizing, “I never thought you’d happen to me.” Friendship and the importance of vulnerable relationships is a common thread present throughout the album. One of the most emotion evoking tracks from “The Record” is track 10, “We’re in Love,” written by Lucy Dacus for her fellow bandmates. The track’s first verse concludes with the lyrics, “I feel crazy in ways I’d never say. Will you still love me if it turns out I’m insane? I know what you’ll say, but it helps to hear you say it anyway.” What is a universal lived experience if not reaching to your best friends for reassurance? Cue the waterworks. “If you rewrite your life, may I still play a part? In the next one, will you find me?”
The twelfth and final track is “Letter To An Old Poet.” Intimate and self referential, this song is a painful insight into a past relationship. Bridgers tells Rolling Stone that “That song is about when someone has so much power over you, they stop being a person,” With notable lines like, “You make me feel like an equal. I’m better than you” possibly referencing when toxic partners make you feel like you’re equally at fault. The bridge is a gift to boygenius fans, calling back to “Me & My Dog” from their debut EP by incorporating the instrumentals paired with mirrored lyrics. The group stated in an interview with Lexi McMenamin, “the crowd’s cheering from a live performance of ‘Me & My Dog’ in 2018 is interpolated into the outro of ‘Letter To An Old Poet.’”
The group has a certain kind of magic within their collaborations, combining their individual lived experiences with their interests in similar music styles. Boygenius has been successful in creating a new demographic that stands independent from each of their individual fan bases. There is a vulnerability present within the lyrics that seems only possibly due to the trio’s camaraderie with each other. During an interview with boygenius, author Laura Barton comments “to spend time in boygenius’s company is to be constantly reminded of the intimacy between them. Their sentences braid together and they make room for one another’s opinions.”
“The Record” feels like a warm group hug during a tough conversation with friends. There is a sense of nostalgia while listening, like spending a summer outside with people you trust, complaining about the world and your relationships and ultimately finding solace in each other. An undercurrent of uplifting energy can found throughout even the saddest tracks. It is the feeling of being isolated with your thoughts but knowing you are surrounded by others who understand. It is knowing there is hope within it all.
Emily Hart is a fourth year English major. EH943163@wcupa.edu