The Record: The Review
Apr 26, 2023
While the world has seen many supergroups come and go, one will always stand out from the rest: Boygenius. Combining the talents of musicians Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers, their new album, “The Record,” sets a new bar for supergroups and alternative artists.
While this is considered their debut, they’ve been active since 2018. After Dacus and Bridgers joined one of Baker’s tours in 2016, they connected instantly, both creatively and personally. On this tour, they released an EP titled “Boygenius”; thus, the band was born. This EP pleased critics and fans alike, but to me, it felt like an introduction, a sprinkling of what they could accomplish. To say that I was excited for this album would be an understatement.
Though the band’s sound is often dubbed as “sad girl music,” which is both reductive and sexist, when the three songwriters come together, they sound anything but sad. While there are many excellent tracks, “Not Strong Enough” is one of my favorites, mostly because it represents what happens when they come together as a whole. Most of their songs have one of them singing lead vocals, but in this one, all three of them fill that role. This serves to bring hope and a sort of power in numbers that elevates it from a song to an anthem.
On the flip side, the trio can also do the opposite, turning sad lyrics into the deepest despair in the song “Cool About It.” This track also includes all three of them on lead vocals, which strengthens the emotion already present. It centers on a dissolving relationship filled with miscommunication, which makes you feel like you’re drowning through its subtle harmonies and quiet but gut-wrenching lyrics.
Though they are fantastic when singing together, every track Baker sang on this album brings another level of impact and emotion to the lyrics. In the song “$20,” a track with enough power and rage behind it to shatter a window, Baker ends it by screaming bloody murder. Everything about Baker’s style of mostly slow songs with intensity behind them translates wonderfully to a group format. She claims this song is about discontent with the world as a kid.
While Boygenius is filled with amazing musicians, Bridgers doesn’t always work in a group setting. Her typical songwriting style consists of mostly downbeat, slow songs. These are great as Phoebe Bridgers songs, but some of the tracks she fronts just feel like her songs instead of ones made by the whole group. For example, “Emily I’m Sorry” doesn’t stray away from her typical format, and if I was shown this song without knowing it was by Boygenius, I would’ve just said it was a Phoebe Bridgers song with some harmonies added in.
Dacus, on the other hand, blends her most nostalgic-filled lyrics and more upbeat tone with the others, adding a touch of lightness and hope to the mostly grim tracks. “We’re In Love,” which is one of my favorite songs off the record, shows that Boygenius can be both happy and sad. This track is about the importance of their friendship in a loving and reflective way, and it shows what Dacus can do at her best: create a quiet but sweet song that builds into something more.
By the end of the album, you might get the feeling that Boygenius isn’t just your average supergroup. They’ve successfully created a unique sound combining all of their styles to become not just a supergroup, but an actual band.