Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

boygenius' debut the record is the result of three artists working in perfect harmony

"the record"

Release date: 31 March 2023
boygenius - the record - Album Artwork
27 March 2023, 16:55 Written by Kate Crudgington

With an origin story that’s worthy of an award-winning indie film, it’s no wonder boygenius’ debut album has been in such high anticipation.

From their Nirvana-inspired Rolling Stones cover shoot, up to the recent announcement of their UK shows, the supergroup have been dominating the social media feeds of excited fans for months. Now, their debut album – aptly titled the record – is here in all its poetic, cutting glory; and it’s been entirely worth the wait.

The product of three bright musical minds with an enviably close connection, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus continue to bloom under their wry moniker. Following on from their debut self-titled EP released in 2018, the record is an unfiltered love letter to true friendship and intimacy in its many guises. Across twelve tracks, the trio extrapolate on everything from nearly drowning in the sea (“Anti-Curse”), gushing over genuine infatuation (“We’re In Love”), to unexpectedly long and meaningful road trips (“Leonard Cohen”). It’s the latter that arguably started it all.

“If you love me / you will listen to this song,” muses Dacus in the opening line of “Leonard Cohen,” recalling the real life moment that Bridgers asked her bandmates to listen to “The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron & Wine in their car. Clocking in at nine and a half minutes, the epic duration meant that Bridgers missed their turn off, but Baker and Dacus didn’t mention it until it was too late, because she was so engrossed in the music. This motion-picturesque, yet ridiculous moment is the lifeblood of the record, deftly summed up by Dacus’ line: “It gave us more time to embarrass ourselves / telling stories we wouldn’t tell anyone else / you said ‘I might like you less / now that you know me so well’”.

Shame is a potent emotion that can skew perspective and shrink a narrative, but boygenius’ direct-yet-tactful dynamic and genuine off-stage friendship means they transgress this. “I want to hear your story / and be a part of it” the trio of harmonious voices sing on demo-like opener “Without You Without Them,” and what follows is a collection of life-affirming, sometimes joyful, occasionally crushing poetry about that.

Their narratives are often eccentric, ambiguous and deeply personal, but their universal veins of frustration, revelation, growth and unfiltered feelings – both platonic and romantic – permeate the record. Whether Dacus is delivering poetic ruminations on “True Blue” (“When you don’t know who you are / you fuck around and find out”), or all three songwriters are “feeling like an absolute fool about it” on “Cool About It”, they’re underscored by the band’s trademark patience, grace, and deadpan humour. Only someone like Baker could get away with writing a bop about a near death experience in the sea on “Anti-Curse,” only someone as dry as Dacus could sing the lyric “and I am not an old man having an existential crisis / in a Buddhist monastery / writing horny poetry” on “Leonard Cohen,” and only someone like Bridgers could deliver the line “you called me a fucking liar” with such tenderness on “Emily I’m Sorry.”

What truly sets the record apart from its predecessor is Baker’s input of genuinely 'sick riffs'. Whilst they were present on the EP (“Stay Down,” “Salt In The Wound”) on the album they really propel things forward and kick in at all the right moments, fully fleshing out boygenius’ sound. Indie anthems like “$20,” “Not Strong Enough” and the superb “Satanist” contrast well amidst the softer moments on “Revolution O” and closing track “Letter To An Old Poet.” This considered instrumentation allows the vocals of each songwriter to shine through consistently.

It goes without saying that there are songs that listeners will instantly take to on the record, and others that will require more patience, but “Satanist” is one of the former. “Will you be a satanist with me?” asks Baker, “Will you be an anarchist with me?” Bridgers propositions, “Will you be a nihilist with me?” questions Dacus – all irresistible invitations that can’t be refused even after repeated listens. This rebellious spirit, one that encourages listeners to mess around, make mistakes and quite literally take the wrong route, is what makes the record such a bright and brilliant listen.

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