Liner Notes: boygenius lives up to the title of ‘supergroup’ with debut studio album


Illustration by Beatrice Villaflor

boygenius released its debut studio album “the record” Friday.

“Unpacking God in the suburbs” has never felt so easy in Evanston, thanks to boygenius’ debut studio album “the record.” Every song was heaven-sent. 

boygenius — a supergroup comprised of singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers — released the album Friday. Clocking in at about 42 minutes, the album incorporates each artist’s distinct style to create a collaborative new sentimental sound.

Perhaps the most surprising track for us was opener “Without You Without Them,” which, while not our favorite, used satisfying harmonies to brilliantly introduce listeners to the album. Contrasting the rest of the album with its a cappella vocals, the song gently welcomes listeners to the LP with its verses. 

Take, for example, the single “Emily I’m Sorry,” which calls back to Bridgers’ “ICU” in its melancholy reflection on an old flame. The entire song feels like an apologetic message to an ex. As soon as we heard this song, one word came to mind: yearning. 

In fact, the whole album radiates the feeling of unfulfillment. Songs like the closing track, “Letter To An Old Poet,”and “Cool About It” remain musically unresolved, inspiring introspection in listeners. 

The latter is a standout track that melds the group members’ individual strengths into one. Baker opens the song with her iconic rasp. Dacus’ sentimental reflection comes through in the second verse and Bridgers wraps the last portion up with her wistful pondering.

The lyricism in “Cool About It” is the best part of the whole album. Listening to lines like “Wishing you were kind enough to be cruel about it” and “I can walk you home and practice method acting / I’ll pretend being with you doesn’t feel like drowning,” we felt absolutely devastated by this masterpiece.

“Not Strong Enough” is another song with the unmistakable sonic richness of boygenius. The lyric “Always an angel, never a god,” takes on a heartbreaking meaning for those who have struggled to live up to their full potential. 

Other songs carry a similar poignancy. Bridgers ponders a budding online relationship in “Revolution 0” with lyrics like “If it isn’t love, then what the f— is it?” In contrast, Baker recounts a near-death experience in “Anti-Curse,” reflecting on how she’s lived her life as she sings “Making peace with inevitable death / I guess I did alright, considering.”

Thematically, the idea of loving someone in spite of their flaws connects much of the album. 

From “True Blue”(“But it feels good to be known so well / I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself”) to “Leonard Cohen (“I might like you less now that you know me so well”) the artists both lament and appreciate what it means to be validated and loved.

“We’re in Love,” a stunning ode to love itself, became an unexpected favorite of ours. In this simple track, Dacus tenderly describes the love of her life. Beware, single listeners: Lines like “There is something about you that I will always recognize” will have you wishing for cuffing season. 

The album’s last song, “Letter To An Old Poet,” is both an angry retrospective on love and a callback to “Me & My Dog,” a highlight from boygenius’ first EP. The end of the song incorporates a clip from a live 2018 performance, which boygenius cherishes as one of its greatest moments, according to an interview with “Them.”

In “the record,” boygenius builds off of the momentum it has created by previous releases with elevated production and refined wordplay. After continuously blasting the album since its release, we’ve concurred: Branding boygenius with the title “supergroup” has never felt more apt. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @kaavya_butaney

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @beatricedvilla

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