Super group boygenius releases “the record”

On March 31, American alternative rock super group, boygenius released their highly anticipated debut LP, “the record.” Boygenius is composed of artists Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, all of whom have their own followings as artists in the indie/alternative pop and rock genres. 

The band released a self-titled EP, comprising six songs that have become cult classics to fans of the genre. For years, fans have wondered when or if the group will ever release a full-length record. Recorded in January 2022, the trio sat on the news for over a year before announcing it along with an EP in January.

Brooke and Emma reviewed “the record” for this issue of The Flor-Ala.

Brooke: My only comment about the introductory track, “Without You Without Them” is that I am floored by the vocals. The acapella on this track is absolutely stunning. 

Emma: Their voices flowed so well on this track and it’s a very nice introduction to the album. It really lets them shine as vocalists. 

Brooke: I will admit that I’ve done a complete 180 degree turn on “$20”. I did not like it at all when I heard it the first 10 times, however, once I listened to the entire album and heard “Without You Without Them” flow into it and watched “the film,” it became one of my absolute favorites. It’s an anthem of female friendship, and it’s now my goal to play this song with the windows down on an all-girls road trip. It’s also funny, because writing a song about a Chevy truck is such a classic country music trope, and in this album that obviously challenges ideals of masculinity and femininity and blends genres, it is interesting for that to be a focus of the song. The chaotic collaboration on the bridge is pure excellence. 

Emma: I was also not too big on the song when it was first released. When compared to the other two songs in the EP, it felt a little lackluster to me. But after I listened through the entire track run, I realized that it’s gold. I’m a huge fan of Julien Baker and love any song that she has lead vocals in. She’s a musical gem. Also, bonus points for being perfect road trip music.

Brooke: As you know, I’m not the biggest Phoebe Bridgers fan. I never have been. I’ve tried to get into her music so many times, and something about it has never clicked. She has a beautiful voice, but I don’t find it particularly interesting to listen to. I feel like I’m supposed to love her music, because I love so many of the acts that are associated with her and the genre of music she produces. That theme does impact a lot of my opinions about this album. Although I like this song and feel like I understand Bridgers a little bit more after getting into this album, she’s still not my favorite. I did not know the history of her relationship with Emily Bannon before doing research on this album, but even when separated from the name reference, this song describes a very specific feeling of not wanting to admit that you’re wrong and loathing yourself for it. It is beautifully written and I do enjoy it. 

Emma: Alternatively, I am a huge Phoebe fan. I first began listening to her after her sophomore album “Punisher” was released. She’s what got me into boygenius in the first place. I think “Emily, I’m Sorry” is just the perfect self-deprecating anthem. Bridgers is constantly unsure of herself throughout the song and feels a deep insecurity in her relationship with Emily. She didn’t realize how damaging their relationship to both of them was until it was over. Chef’s kiss.

Brooke: This is not only my favorite track on this album, but my favorite song that’s been released all year. I’ve had a lot of respect and admiration for Lucy Dacus since we saw her in Birmingham last October. (Thanks for that.) She’s objectively my favorite boy in boygenius. It explores the entrance and dismissal of intrusive thoughts of relationship anxiety, but is also a perfect modern love song. 

Emma: This song is just so catchy. It makes me wish I bought the “I Love Lucy Dacus” shirt at her concert. There are some real standout lines in this song. I am so obsessed with their lyricism. There are always so many layers to what they say, even though it seems simple. “True Blue” is in my top five for this album.

Brooke: After “True Blue”, “Cool About It” is my second favorite song on the album, and I think it is grossly underrated when compared to “Not Strong Enough.” I’m obsessed with the lyricism in this one and the cabin-in-candlelight, storytelling around the fire feeling it presents. “I came prepared for absolution if you’d only ask, so I take some offense when you say ‘no regrets’” is one of the best one-liners on the record and calls attention back to the lyrics of Dacus’s “Night Shift”. In the liner notes for “the record” they thank Paul Simon for inspiration on the song. 

Emma: Do I have an unhealthy obsession with “Not Strong Enough”? Yes. Is it well earned? Also yes. The bridge is such a steady build into the final chorus (and can we talk about how good of a lyric “always an angel, never a god” is?). I think it also discusses gender roles, like you mentioned earlier. Women aren’t ever a god, they’re usually angels. We can’t be on the same pedestal that men are historically on. Also, the main part of the chorus is “I am not strong enough to be your man,” which already blurs the line between gender.

Brooke: “Leonard Cohen” is another favorite of mine. Is it because of Lucy? Probably. But have you ever listened to a song and resonated with the words so deeply that you feel it in your soul? That’s how I am with so many of Dacus’s lyrics, even if they’re silly, like some of these are. It’s simple, but it tells a complete story and embodies a full moment, and I’ve felt that moment before. 

Emma: Lucy really shines on that one.. I really don’t understand the dislike some people have for this song. While it’s not my favorite, it’s a great song nonetheless.

Brooke: The alternative rock vibes on “Satanist” are so strong, and I love the overall 90s/early 2000s feel of it. I feel like it’s a second part of $20 that embraces female restlessness. Although some may find the title off-putting, “Satanist” is only one of the titles used to describe or categorize the women in this song. I appreciate these songs that do a great job at getting a perspective from all three of them and shows their true ability to collaborate on a song. 

Emma: Lucy Dacus yet again comes in to make me depressed and vulnerable through the song “We’re in Love”. This is one of my favorites from the album. Is it because I love sad music? Most definitely. From the opening line, I was absolutely captivated with this track. It just feels so raw and real. It captivates the duality of love and pain, and I think that makes it insanely special. I also didn’t realize until a few listens (and reading Rolling Stone’s review on the album) that they reference Taylor Swift’s “This Love” in the last line. 

Brooke: I definitely noticed the Taylor Swift reference. I was waiting for you to notice.

Brooke: Julien’s vocals on “Anti-Curse,” especially the bridge. That’s all. That’s my review. 

Emma: God, I love Julien Baker. I love the way this song flows into “Letter To An Old Poet.” It’s just so good.

Brooke: “Letter To An Old Poet” is a punch in the stomach, just like the one Bridgers refers to in the song. The lyrics are heart-wrenching. However, I wish this was not the final track on “the record.” I definitely think it should have ended on a track where they all have a significant part. 

Emma: I am obsessed with this song. Like to an unhealthy degree. I’ve said previously that I’ve been a fan of all of the boys, as well as boygenius, for some years now. “Me & My Dog” is one of my favorite songs from their self-titled EP. “Letter To An Old Poet” is like a gut-wrenching sequel. There are so many parallels (especially in the bridge of the song). However, the bridge changes from loud and desperate in “Me & My Dog” to somber and reflective in “Letter To An Old Poet.” The singer realizes that the relationship they romanticized in “Me & My Dog” was actually painful and toxic in “Letter.” They lost themselves while they were in love. I could go on about the parallels for years, but it would take up an entire page. Anyhow, the production feels dreamy, like that’s the best way I can describe it. I am just so in love with this song. 

Emma: I think “the record” is one of (if not my top) favorite albums of this year. I’ve been waiting for this for years and I’m so glad I did. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus are a powerhouse trio. I hope we see more from boygenius in the future because they are great together. The album is a mix of road-trips with best friends, sobbing in your bathroom and reflecting in your bedroom at 3 a.m. I think this is an album I’ll never grow weary of. It’s a modern classic.

Brooke: I definitely have a newfound respect for all three of these artists after listening to “the record,” but I still believe in Lucy Dacus superiority.