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The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

Review: boygenius – The Record

Boygenius regroups for release of the debut album that fans worried would never come
The+graphic%2C+created+by+Tess+Gagliano%2C+above+showcases+an+image+of+Lucy+Dacus%2C+Phoebe+Bridgers%2C+and+Julien+Baker%2C+the+members+of+boygenius.+The+photo+taken+by+Harrison+Whitford%2C+is+part+of+a+series+of+images+from+the+groups+beach+photoshoot+that+released+along+with+their+debut+album+The+Record+on+Mar.+31.+They+are+currently+touring+in+the+US+and+internationally.+%28Album+cover+by+Boygenius%29
Tess Gagliano
The graphic, created by Tess Gagliano, above showcases an image of Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker, the members of boygenius. The photo taken by Harrison Whitford, is part of a series of images from the group’s beach photoshoot that released along with their debut album ‘The Record’ on Mar. 31. They are currently touring in the US and internationally. (Album cover by Boygenius)

Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker make up ‘boygenius,’ the band Rolling Stone called ‘the world’s most exciting supergroup.’ The three met in 2016, quickly forming a close friendship that has since endeared fans in interviews and live performances. Their connection shines through in their music, the members’ three unique styles blending seamlessly. Boygenius released their self-titled EP in 2018, stunning fans with powerful vocals and melancholic verses. Each artist has their own successful solo career. Although the group remained close friends in the years following the release of their EP, fans didn’t know if they would ever get more music from the group. But, five years later in March of 2023, the band reunited for their debut album — simply titled ‘The Record.’

 

Track 1: “Without You Without Them”

4/10

“Without You Without Them” feels like a hymn. Only a minute and 20 seconds long, the vocals transport you to the pews of a church, listening to the choir sing. The trio leans into a singular mic for the song’s acapella harmonies. Much of ‘The Record’ focuses on their friendship, and the opening track showcases this perfectly.  Still, this was my least favorite song on the album. The canon elements are too choral for my taste, and while the song is sweet, reminiscing on history and ancestry, the lyrics don’t have the same poetic complexity as their other work.

 

Track 2: “$20”

8/10

$20, a single written and fronted by Julien Baker, was released on Jan. 18 along with Bridgers’ “Emily I’m Sorry” and Dacus’ “True Blue.” These three singles, which highlight the artists’ individuality were released more than two months before the rest of the album, which features their more collaborative work.

A sharp contrast to the previous track, Baker’s love for classic rock is evident in this song. “$20” opens with heavy guitar riffs and the lyrics “It’s a bad idea / and I’m all about it,” revealing the song’s theme of self-destructive tendencies that also appears in many of Baker’s solo works. This song has a roughness about it, feeling choppy and desperate. The catchy verses and impressive guitar quickly made this song a fan favorite, though. The last verses feature overlapping vocals that increase in urgency, building to a guttural scream that ends the song. It’s raw, fresh, and definitely a crowd-pleaser.

 

Track 3: “Emily, I’m Sorry”

10/10

This is a classic Phoebe Bridgers song, with delicate vocals, beautiful harmonies, and rolling melodies. Like “$20,” it deals with self-destructive tendencies — the recklessness and confusion of young love. The overlapping vocals portray this confusion without taking away from the softness of the song, which is, as the title implies, asking for forgiveness. Bridgers writes from a second-person point of view to ask for this directly with “Emily, forgive me. Can we / make it up as we go along? / I’m 27 and I don’t know who I am, but I know / what I want.” It’s catchy, heartfelt, and overall a great song.

 

Track 4: “True Blue”

10/10

Reminiscent of “Brando” or “Hot and Heavy,” two songs on Dacus’ third studio album ‘Home Video,’ “True Blue” features an upbeat mix of guitar, drums and keyboard. An indie-pop anthem, this song pays tribute to the deep, unwavering friendship between the bandmates. This is expressed in the chorus, “It feels good to be known so well / I can’t hide from you, like I hide from myself,” a sentiment opposed in the chorus of track eight, “I might like you less now that you know me so well.” This suggests their love is not only deeply loyal but also uniquely comfortable — ‘true blue.’

 

Track 5: “Cool About It”

10/10

Following the three singles, “Cool About It” is a truly collaborative effort. It’s about pretending — both pretending you don’t want someone and pretending you can’t see them struggling. It talks about the pressure to be casual, or “cool about it” with lyrics like ” wishin’ you were kind enough to be cruel about it / tellin’ my self I can always do without it / knowin’ that it probably isn’t true” then later, “tellin’ you it’s nice to see how good you’re doing / even though we know it isn’t true.” The conflict between not wanting to overstep or mess up the friendship and the stress of playing along with a friend’s facade and lying to yourself is shown as they harmonize for “I’ll pretend being with you doesn’t feel like drowning.” “Cool about it” features acoustic guitar and banjo, accompanying polished vocals, which gives the music a mellow sincerity that the boys seem to be longing for in the friendship they’re writing about.

 

Track 6: “Not Strong Enough”

10/10

One of my favorite tracks on the album, “Not Strong Enough” is catchy with guitar and drums backing up the haunting vocals. The music video for this song features the trio on a roller coaster, and that’s exactly what the music feels like here — carrying you along its rolling ups and downs. With references to Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough” and The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” the song expresses a feeling of self-loathing, but, rather than wallowing in that feeling, the lyrics explore the complexity of self-hatred, suggesting that it is both selfish and destructive.  Bridgers sings the first verses, while Baker takes the lead in the middle of the song. The band harmonizes for the chorus, “I don’t know why I am / the way I am / not strong enough to be your man,” and Dacus finishes off with the famous progression of “always an angel / never a god.” It’s a collaborative work that tells a story, while still being an easy sing-along and a great pick for aux.

 

Track 7: “Revolution 0”

9/10

Drawing inspiration from the Beatles and Elliott Smith, this is the most underrated track on the album in my opinion. It’s short and sad. Bridgers sings the pre-chorus, “I don’t wanna die / that’s a lie / but I’m afraid to get sick / I don’t know what that is” in her signature angelic voice. I don’t find this song depressing, though. The music is quite pretty and the upbeat instrumentals in the chorus give the song a feeling of bittersweet acceptance.

 

Track 8: “Leonard Cohen”

7/10

 This song is lighthearted and catchy, telling the story of a road trip where two people connect with each other, “telling stories [they] wouldn’t tell anyone else.” It’s about youthful, vulnerable love — the type where you can’t stop smiling. It takes a playful tone with the narrative, making jokes about the song’s namesake along the way. However, Dacus’ soulful voice ends the song on a sincere note with “I never thought you’d happen to me.” Overall, it’s a good song. It’s sweet, funny, and a bit awkward at times — just like the relationship it reminisces on.

 

Track 9: “Satanist”

9/10

Julien Baker takes the lead on both guitar and vocals for this teenage angst-type rock song. In the three variations of the chorus, they ask “Will you be a satanist, anarchist, nihilist with me?” However, the band is not actually promoting these ideologies. The song is more an expression of fantasy, a longing to “sleep in cars and kill the bourgeoisie.” Although, they follow this line up with, “at least until you find out what a fake I am,” suggesting that their commitment is to escape rather than the fringe ideologies referenced in the song. “Satanist” leans into the idea of teenage rebellion with both the music and the lyrics. It stays true to the feel of the genre and is definitely a fun listen.

 

Track 10: “We’re In Love”

7/10

Dacus is known for her strong storytelling in ballads like “Night Shift” and “Triple Dog Dare.” “We’re in Love”  definitely falls into this category with a run time just short of five minutes. As always, Dacus’ lyricism is beautifully poetic with lines like, “put down the knife, we’re not swappin’ blood / isn’t it enough / that we’ve stripped down to our skin / cold and porcelain.” This is a love song, but it feels sad. The first half of the song is more of a typical love song, but in the second half, Dacus transitions into a more longing tone. With a reference to a Marty Robbins song with the lyric, “I’ll be the boy with the pink carnation.” Here, Dacus expresses a fear of being stood up or left behind by the people she loves. She makes it clear that her love is everlasting, but asks the question of the others, “If you rewrite your life, can I still play a part? / In the next one, will you find me?” It is a beautiful piece of poetry with Dacus’ signature storytelling elements. The reason I only gave it a 6/10 is because the melody is a bit repetitive and the instrumentals are very simple. For me, it’s just not very catchy, despite its clear artistic merit.

 

Track 11: “Anti-Curse”

10/10

Maybe my favorite song on the album, “Anti-Curse” has the same heavy guitar and drums as “Satanist” and “$20,” plus a deep bass beat that automatically makes it super catchy. Overall, it has a softer quality than the other two songs, with crystal-clear vocals and instruments blending perfectly. To me, this feels very similar to songs on Baker’s third album, ‘Little Oblivions.’ Like many of those tracks, it explores the struggle of navigating through life, through faith and dealing with your own mortality. The combination of thoughtful lyricism, great guitar, earnest vocals, and a catchy beat definitely earn this song a 10/10.

 

Track 12: “Letter to An Old Poet”“Letter to An Old Poet”

7/10

This is a song about growth. It is almost a rewrite of their 2018 release “Me and My Dog,” hence the title. I love this concept. While “Me and My Dog” describes an escapist fantasy, “Letter to An Old Poet” is about the process of healing. This is obvious when you compare the earlier chorus, “I wanna be emaciated / I wanna hear one song without thinking of you,” with the latter, “I wanna be happy / I’m ready / to walk into my room without thinking of you.” However, the vocals in the 2018 chorus are so powerful, with Bridgers famously belting “emaciated.” I wish we had gotten the same emphasis on “happy.” Conversely, they could have gone quieter here, singing the word like a resolution and emphasizing the contrast between the two songs. For me, the chorus just falls a bit flat. My favorite part of “Letter to an Old Poet” is the intro, the plaintive tone summed up with the lyrics, “you said my music is mellow / maybe I’m just exhausted.” In the following verses though, some of the lyrics are so unserious. Backed by the same sad piano melodies, Bridgers sings, “when you fell down the stairs / it looked like it hurt/ and I wasn’t sorry.” This line makes me laugh every time I hear it. With the direct comparison the band has drawn to their earlier song, it’s more noticeable that neither the lyrical nor vocal quality of this last track doesn’t quite measure up to the rest of their work.

 

Overall this has been one of my favorite albums this year. The variety makes it an incredibly versatile listen, with upbeat songs you could dance or workout to, sad but pretty acoustic performances, and fun rock beats. Although none of the songs are sung completely solo, some clearly align with one artist’s unique style. Others, though, blend the three styles, creating something completely new. The band has made it clear that ‘boygenius’ has no front-woman, and overall, no one artist dominates the album. I’m excited to see them keep growing and while I don’t know if we’ll ever get another album from the trio, I’ll definitely be tracking all three of these artists to see where they go next.

 

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Tess Gagliano
Tess Gagliano, Executive Design Editor
Tess Gagliano is a Senior at Prosper High School and currently serves as an Executive Design Editor for Eagle Nation Online and Eagle Nation Times. Outside of school she enjoys reading, writing, and working on her own art. She also plays club volleyball, makes jewelry, and helps take care of foster cats and other animals on the family farm. Honor Societies: National Honor Society National Art Honor Society Quill and Scroll Journalism Awards: 2023 UIL Ready Writing: All Tournament Best TAJE 2024 Best in Texas Entertainment Review, Honorable Mention TAJE 2024 Best in Texas News Magazine Cover, Honorable Mention 2023 ATPI Fall Photo Contest: 3rd Place Photostory 2023 Quill & Scroll Finalist / News Magazine Front Page Design 2024 ILPC Personal Opinion Column - 3rd place  
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