Album of the Week: boygenius – the record ★★★★★

Album cover art for boygenius' debut full-length project, the record. Shows an arm of each of the three band members up in the air, in front of a blue background. Picture by Matt Grubb

By Holly Haldane (she/her) 

On March 31st, queer indie supergroup boygenius released their debut album, the record, the highly anticipated follow-up to their 2018 critically acclaimed self-titled EP. 

The indie trio is made up of American singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, all of whom have amassed a huge, overlapping following in the years since the release of their first EP. The album comes as a relief to many fans who have spent the last five years eagerly awaiting the group’s next move.  

Their clever lyricism, powerful harmonies, and striking guitar riffs are only part of the reason the group works so well, as Baker, Bridgers and Dacus are also close friends behind the scenes. The group recently admitted to going to therapy together to The Guardian, in a bid to protect their friendship from the perils of touring and releasing an album. It is this sweet admiration for one another that makes the record so special. 

The songwriting in the record is touching and nostalgic. The listener finds themselves experiencing broken relationships in ‘Emily I’m Sorry’ & ‘Revolution 0’, and sombre, platonic love stories through ‘True Blue’ & ‘We’re in Love’, while dipping in and out of folk-rock upbeat tracks that pack their own punch to the gut like ‘Not Strong Enough’ & ‘Satanist’. Though I may be biased as a fan of the three, boygenius’ writing is so masterful that each track quickly becomes personal, and feels like a page ripped from the listener’s own diary.  

A quick fan favourite from the record, ‘Cool About It’ tells the story of three broken relationships from each singer’s perspective. It is a stand-out track that exemplifies how well the three artists work together. The banjo-backed track appears to pluck inspiration from Simon & Garfunkel’s iconic track – ‘The Boxer’, with Paul Simon even being given writing credit for the track on Spotify.

‘Cool About It’ allows each artist their own verse and ends with a heart-breaking confessional from Bridgers as she croons “I can walk you home and practice method acting / I’ll pretend being with you doesn’t feel like drowning”. Fans quickly picked up on the reference to a popular track from her 2020 album Punisher, ‘Moon Song’ in which she states, “You asked to walk me home, but I had to carry you” & “And now my feet can’t touch the bottom of you”.  

the record comes across as a love letter to one another, and while each artist takes moments of their solo work with them, the group is strongest when they are in unison. Look to the album’s opener ‘Without You, Without Them’, a folksy a cappella track that thanks those who came before themselves for the friendship they have and the people they are. Or the Dacus-led track ‘Leonard Cohen’ which finishes with “I never thought you’d happen to me”, it is clear that the love between one another is the glue that makes the record so strong. It is refreshing to see and leaves the listener wanting more.  

Whether you’re familiar with boygenius already, or if this is the first you’re hearing of them, give the record a listen. It has already received ‘Instant Classic’ status from Rolling Stone, and has been widely praised by critics across the board. It is an album that will not be forgotten, and I, like many boygenius fans, can’t wait to see what they do next.