Boygenius’ three women—Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker—make ancestral mentions a hallmark of their group. Witness the cover of their first EP in 2018 as they recreate the everyday iconography of a previous supergroup – Crosby, Stills & Nash – debut album sleeve or pose as Nirvana on a recent Rolling Stone cover. On their first full-length album, simply called “The Record”, references are fast and furious in song titles or random lines: The Beatles “Revolution 0”, Sheryl Crow “Not Strong Enough”, Virginia Woolf “” Letters to an Old Poet,” Joan Didion and the Cure, with scattered borrowings or quotations, and finally, Leonard Cohen, um, “Leonard Cohen.”
These fleeting shouts come from real superfans who have a sense of culture and a sense of humor about themselves. But the funny thing is that when they’re not playing at the benchmark, Bridgers, Dacus, and Baker make such good music that it doesn’t feel wrong to elevate them to the same big leagues as their protagonists. Individually, that’s the case, all three of them at the forefront of the singer-songwriter in their 20s. However, it wasn’t always clear until “The Record” what a fourth sensibility could be that they could carry collectively. To say that the whole Boygenius is greater than the sum of its parts would be an insult to these artists’ solo recordings, but the new album feels like you could play it a hundred times and still enjoy deciphering how their voices and people are. diverge and recombine in ways that are simultaneously distinctly separate and alchemical. Even the presence of a brash song called “Satanist” won’t stop you from contemplating the sanctity of a solid super-trinity.
A few of the tracks were written alone (or with a word or phrase suggested by another member if you look at the coded lyrics). A few of these even showcase a dominant singer-songwriter before harmonies kick in. So it’s not like they’re playing a round robin game. Each tune – more evenly shared songs, although when they come out they turn into democratic entertainment. The instinctive, distinctive role of each member is reasonably clear: if you hear a song with a strong electric guitar riff that makes the Breeders think like “$20” does – or believe it or not, Nirvana as “Satanist” does – it’s Baker’s. musically at his most cocky (though that’s not his only trick). Conversely, if you hear a sound that pure, it sounds like the owner was playing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 and writes accordingly on his arm with a warm heart, that would be Dacus. Someone who delivers most of his material almost in a whisper, but screams for a dramatic climax? Bridgers of course.
But what gives “The Record” a fiber element that several other star crews boast about is how unconsciously the trio write or simply have it there harmonically about the power of friendship, alongside their respective romantic endeavors. lesson. When they harmonize “I never thought it would happen to me” in “Leonard Cohen”, it’s about Boygenius himself, friends swapping songs on a road trip. This comradeship contrasts with the more troubling matters of the heart that Bridgers speaks of in such outspoken issues as “Letters to an Old Poet.” (Honesty doesn’t get more candid than: “I wasn’t hurt and upset when you fell down the stairs / I should have left you there with your hostages: my heart and my car keys.” )
In bulk, not “Register” HE It’s much more upbeat than its supposedly sad solo efforts and features some pretty heartbreaking lyrics from each of the members – so why does the final effect make you feel so happy? In part, the ode to a Dacus-led BFF is the inclusion of a few morale boosters on finding the real connection, like “True Blue.” But mostly it’s about creating an interlocking spirit beneath the sometimes lonely top layer. In “Not Strong Enough”, the album’s most social (and possibly commercial) tune – which on paper it sounds like a bum – you really get how these three talents enjoy jumping on top of each other. Summer feels like three months early as you listen to that not-so-gloomy old-school jangle-pop track with exchanged verses that builds a sisterhood right in front of your ears. And it’s like one of the best albums of 2023 came just in time.