boygenius – “The Record” Review


Owen Mayer, Staff Writer

There have been many music supergroups throughout history, but not many have reached the heights and combined talent that boygenius has achieved on their long-awaited full-length LP, “The Record.” Five years after their surprise self-titled debut, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus are back with a deeply personal album that combines their distinct styles and brings together all three of their extremely hardcore fanbases.

The seamless 12 track album is split evenly between the three singer-songwriters; each takes lead on four songs, with the other two providing auxiliary verses, harmonies or sometimes both.

“The Record” begins the way their 2018 EP ended: a cappella, just three voices sharing major chords like a family singing a hymn. The song, “Without You Without Them,” is a request coupled with a promise, and it could describe their musical alliance, as well as a prospective collaboration, “Give me everything you’ve got/I’ll take what I can get.”

Like all of their albums as solo artists, “The Record” comes from experiences in their own lives, as well as ones they shared as a group. Many songs were written directly about experiences the three have shared. The opening verse of “Leonard Cohen,” for example, narrates a long drive they took during which Bridgers urged them all to listen closely to a song she adored and then, having gotten so absorbed in her listening, missed their exit.

Baker started writing the song “Anti-Curse” after going swimming in a too-high tide during a boygenius writing trip in Malibu, she told Rolling Stone, and the near-drowning brought her a strange kind of calm. In “Anti-Curse,” she sings of “making peace with my inevitable death” and in the very next line, the first thing she thinks of is her loved ones: “I guess I did alright, considering / Tried to be a halfway decent friend.”

“We’re In Love,” a swooning, Dacus-led ballad, is a tribute to Bridgers and Baker. It’s an intense song, one that acknowledges the risks of such vulnerability from its very first line: “You could absolutely break my heart / That’s how I know that we’re in love.”

Friendship and camaraderie are huge themes heard throughout this project. However, they aren’t merely the backdrop or context for these songs, but rather the foundation that all these tracks are built on. If we are being honest, friendship drives our lives, and influences many of the decisions that we make in our everyday lives and the lives of others. All of this sounds like talk reserved for romance, but its like what Bridgers says on her meditative slow-burner “Revolution 0,” where all three meet for the refrain: “If it isn’t love, then what the fuck is it?”