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boygenius – the record

April 4, 2023
the record

boygenius is an indie rock supergroup made up of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. the record is the most hyped indie rock album of the year. It has been well received by professional music critics – earning a 90 on Metacritic and an 8.2 and best new music on Pitchfork. My theory on the positive buzz is related to the reputation of the three twenty-something singer-songwriters, it’s a rock record in an age of pop/hip hop dominance, the three singers are friends and not competitors, a successful EP/tour in 2018, and the high profile of Phoebe Bridgers.

The biggest question on the critical table, is if the whole is greater than the parts, given the three singer-songwriters’ strong solo catalogs. I come to the album with fresh ears as I have not listened to the singer-songwriters’solo albums. Other than Bridgers, I have not heard of the other two performers.

I really like this album. It is mostly rocking (to the point of arena-rock anthems), at points quiet singer-songwriter contemplative, has great hooks, magic harmonies (like blood harmonies), and sounds like a band and not a forced concoction – boygenius sounds like they are having fun. There are several summertime-roll-your-car-windows-down and blast-it songs (as the kids like to say bangers).

I backtracked and listened to boygenius’ 2018 debut eponymous EP which is similarly good (but with less impressive production compared to the new album). In the meantime, Phoebe Bridgers has become a big deal, so I assume this new album is getting a boost from the star-maker machine. For three indie artists, the record sounds like a major label (it’s on Interscope) album (a good thing in my mind) and arena rock for our time (thus the suggestion that the band is rock’s salvation).


My introduction to the group was the batch of teaser singles they released earlier this year: “$20” / “Emily I’m Sorry” / “True Blue”. Those three songs are catchy rock songs that demanded my attention. They are featured prominently on the front half of the album. Those songsare three of several bangers on the album.

The basic template is that one of the three takes the lead on a song (as a songwriter and as lead vocalist), however, some songs are a handoff with each singer handling a verse. I prefer the uptempo rock songs over the quieter folky stuff. Overall there are a lot of catchy earworms and clever lyrics on the album. There is a full band backing up the vocalists. The arrangements are well executed and there is a nice sequencing of fast and slow songs. With each listen, the album grows on me. I am motivated to explore the Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus solo catalogs given the quality of this album. the record lives up to the hype.

Here is an excellent podcast from Rolling Stone breaking down the record.


From → Music Reviews

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