Album ReviewMusic

ALBUM REVIEW: “the record” by boygenius

  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Sat Aug 19 2023


What happens when three of indie's top powerhouse women combine their lyrical genius and sonic innovation into one highly anticipated project? The answer: pure unadulterated musical magic, powerful enough to bring any self-loathing young woman or indie rock dad to their knees.  

Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers formed their band boygenius in 2018, to combat the all too common phenomenon of women in music being pitted against each other rather than celebrated for their individual success. The three had been friends and fans of each other from running in the same tight-knit up-and-coming indie scene.  

Remarkably, boygenius' first release, the boygenius EP, was created in four days by a team composed almost entirely of women. The project was acclaimed by fans and critics alike. Since its release, indie listeners have been begging for more. Most recently, the record was released on March 31, bearing a similar structure to that of their EP,  including songs spearheaded by each member, intermingled with pieces that feature heavy collaboration amongst the trio.  

Baker brings some much-appreciated energy to the record with “$20” and “Anti Curse,” songs filled with punchy electric guitar, prominent drum beats and plenty of angsty backing vocals. The lyrics to the Baker-centric songs are smart and referential, both to her own work, the boygenius catalog and general historical events.  

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Baker explained that the lyrics to “$20” were inspired by the famous Vietnam protest photograph “Flower Power.” Taken by Bernie Boston. Baker masterfully uses this reference to describe her internal feelings of unrest and discontentment with the state of the world. The sonic and lyrical features of these songs perfectly encapsulate why Baker's fans fell in love with her in smart but emotional art in the first place 

“Flower Power,” photo courtesy of Bernie Boston 

Dacus takes over for “True Blue,” “Leonard Cohen” and “We're In Love,” which slow things down, featuring a more acoustic sound and lyrics dripping with introspection. Dacus' ability to infuse her lyrics with such powerful meaning is what shot her to prominence with her most well-known song, “Night Shift,” which depicts the kind of breakup that scares you away from ever feeling love again. Despite the sonic and tonal similarities between these three songs, Dacus' trademark storytelling and production are able to make each of them feel unique and wholly warranted on the album.  

Bridgers is most prominent in “Emily I'm Sorry” and “Letter To an Old Poet,” the latter of which is undoubtedly a highlight on the album. Its lyrics directly reference “Me & My Dog,” a fan-favorite song from the 2018 boygenius EP. In a 2023 interview with Rolling Stone, Bridgers said, “That song is about when someone has so much power over you, they stop being a person.” The song completely encapsulates that feeling, inducing visceral feelings of lovesickness that hurt so good.  

Baker, Dacus and Bridgers take an even split, in “Without You Without Them,” “Not Strong Enough,” “Revolution 0” and “Satanist.” These four songs combine the sonic and lyrical characteristics of each artist and feature some delicious harmonic moments from the trio. It is these songs where the record takes on a unique voice that makes it such a strong contender for the album of the year.