Powerful female friendships define boygenius’ new album ‘the record’

Photo courtesy of @xboygeniusx on Instagram

This article was written collaboratively by Hanalei Potempa, culture editor, and Ella Van Leuven, staff writer.

Five years after the release of their self-titled EP, indie rock band boygenius released their debut album, “the record,” on March 31.

Since its release, “the record” has received critical acclaim and wide praise across the music industry, securing a perfect score from Rolling Stone and an 8.2 from Pitchfork. 

Best friends and band members Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker started boygenius in 2018, and fans have been anticipating the members to spare some time from their solo careers to drop a full album as a band. 

Four of the songs, “$20,” “Emily, I’m Sorry,” “True Blue” and “Not Strong Enough” were released prior to the full release of the album, giving fans a sneak peak into “the record” experience.

“the record” was produced by boygenius, Sarah Tudzin and Catherine Marks, a producer known for her work with The Killers and Manchester Orchestra. The album incorporates the voices of each singer, often including three-part harmonies, especially prevalent in “$20” and “Not Strong Enough.”

While the three members of boygenius have collaborated throughout the album with consistent three-part harmony and their work together on lyrics, their individual personalities as artists shine through. Each artist has developed their own distinctive sound, but their voices work together in a way that highlights each artists’ personal strengths. 

“the record” explores identity and self-image as the band members navigate relationship and friendships, with Bridgers singing “I’m 27 and I don’t know who I am,” in “Emily, I’m Sorry,” and Dacus singing “When you don’t know who you are you f— around and find out,” in “True Blue.”

[Album cover for “the record” by boygenius.]
Photo courtesy of @xboygeniusx on Instagram

Boygenius’ music depicts all the emotions and experiences that come along with growing up. Listeners are able to see themselves in the heartache and mourning of relationships that takes place throughout “the record.”

“Cool About It” addresses emotional damage from a relationship, with lyrics like “I’ll pretend bein’ with you doesn’t feel like drowning,” describing the lowest points of toxic relationships. boygenius took inspiration from “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel for the song, particularly with the opening melody.

The song discusses the difficulty of truly stepping back from someone who’s hurt you, regardless of the love you still have for them or the loose ends in the relationship. boygenius speaks to those who are still hurting, those who deserve an apology but didn’t get one and those who can’t be cool about it.

“Not Strong Enough,” the sixth song on the track, discusses feelings of self-hatred that often arise by not being enough in a relationship. The bridge features Baker, Bridgers and Dacus repeating “Always an angel, never a god,” evoking the idea that we might never be truly “good enough” for our partner (and that’s okay).

The album also sheds light on the depth of platonic female relationships, illuminated by the beautiful friendship between the three band members. Bridgers, Baker and Dacus share a connection that goes beyond the music they make together, evident in both the lyrics and the production on the album. 

One of the last tracks on the album, “We’re In Love,” is a tribute to the other members of boygenius by Lucy Dacus. Lyrics like “If you rewrite your life, may I still play a part? In the next one, will you find me?” show listeners that soulmates don’t need to be found solely in romantic relationships. 

The final track on the album, “A Letter To An Old Poet,” begins with Bridgers singing alone, facing a toxic relationship. Bridgers has realizations of the truth behind this relationship and is joined by Baker and Dacus at the end, with the courage to face it.

This track came as a shock to dedicated boygenius fans, who realized the song uses the same chords and melody as a song on their original EP “Me and My Dog.”

Bridgers offers an entirely new experience of “Me and my Dog” with “A Letter To An Old Poet,” changing the lyrics “I wanna be emaciated” to “I wanna be happy, I’m ready.”

The majority of the songs on the album are slower-paced, serving to amplify the moodiness and emotion of the album. A few of the songs, such as “$20” and “Satanist,” lean more into the band’s rock elements, but most of the songs have a sweeter indie/folk aspect to them. 

Overall the album is sad, but through a scope of self awareness and reflection. However, this overall mood does not take away from the fleeting moments of true friendship, love and honesty that are revealed throughout. 

boygenius just started their tour for the summer to perform their new album, and they will be performing in Boise at the Outlaw Field at the Idaho Botanical Garden on Aug. 2. Tickets and more information is available on their website. 

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