Album: "The Record"
Artist: boygenius (Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus)
Released: March 31, 2023
Duration: 42 minutes, 18 seconds
Label: Matador Records/Interscope Records
The indie/folk rock band boygenius shows great potential in its debut album, "The Record," but falls short with a song that is more reminiscent of a worship camp.
In its opening track, “Without You Without Them,” the band only uses the vocals of Bridgers, Baker and Dacus. This acappella approach creates a harmonious and warm sound with a slight echo in the background, making it feel like you are in the room with them.
After the artists lull listeners into a sense of comfort with soft vocals, the next track, “$20,” sends them into a full-body shock with a sudden uptick in volume. The song has a beat that entices the listener, and towards the end, the three members layer their voices on top of one another to create a beautiful harmony.
Bridgers dominates the next track, “Emily I’m Sorry,” which fans speculate the song to be about a past relationship with voice actor Emily Bannon. The soft voice of Bridgers and the acoustic guitar help to distract from the song's underlying theme of loneliness.
Lyrics such as “And I can feel myself becoming / Somebody I’m not, I'm not so / Emily forgive me,” and “I’m twenty-seven and I don’t know who I am,” further paint the picture of discontent with the current state of the narrator's life.
After "Emily I'm Sorry," the next track on the record, "True Blue," again represents a quick shift in sound and throws listeners for a loop.
“True Blue” sounds like a worship song, rather than their usual folk/indie style. With its slow pace, it was a definite low point in the album compared to the earlier tracks.
Compared to "True Blue", a song that stands out is “Not Strong Enough," in which the acoustic guitar and the members' voices again mesh together beautifully.
Within the lyrics of the song, boygenius alludes to the song "Boys Don't Cry" by 80's rock/alternative band The Cure in the lyrics "Drag racing through the canyon / Singing 'Boys Don’t Cry.'"
Similar to The Cure, boygenius skillfully hides sorrowful lyrics within its more upbeat tracks. In "Not Strong Enough," the trio sings about feelings of self-hatred and how a person can tumble into a pessimistic mentality.
“I don’t know why I am / The way I am / Not strong enough to be your man / I lied, I am / Just lowering your expectations," the trio sang in the chorus.
The song carries the major theme that self-hatred can consume a person, causing them to question if they actually know who they are or if they are observing their own life from a third-point of view.
A final honorable mention is the song "Leonard Cohen," a reference to the Canadian singer and poet of the same name. The song creates a feeling of two people on the open road who miss their exit but use it as a way to deepen their connection. Through Dacus’ vocals, listeners can feels like they are watching it unfold in real-time.
Overall, "The Record" was very easy to listen to, with many songs that have potential to become hits, the worship-skewed "True Blue" aside.