Review: boygenius, “the record”


Art for boygenius’ upcoming album “the record” 20 Feb, 2023.

By Lauren Verdoljak, Reporter

Dubbed “the World’s Most Exciting Supergroup” by Rolling Stone, boygenius, which consists of indie rock stars Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus announced their return on Wednesday, Jan. 18. This came after a four year hiatus in which the members released a collective three albums, toured as solo acts, were nominated for—and lost—four Grammys, and produced late-night television performances that sparked a twitter feud with the late David Crosby. The group were also featured on the Feb. 2023 cover of Rolling Stone magazine in a Nirvana-inspired shoot. 

A three-song teaser of their upcoming album “the record” was released on Jan 18. The EP included Baker’s “$20”, Bridgers’ “Emily I’m Sorry”, and Dacus’ “True Blue”.

Easily the catchiest of the new releases, “$20” opens with a choppy, pop punk-esque guitar riff that sets the mood for this true indie rock song. The Baker-penned track hints at self-destructive tendencies, a common theme in her work. The backing vocals are different from a typical boygenius song; the harmonies here are scattered and acerbic. Bridgers and Dacus finish Baker’s sentences with sharp, sporadic punches, which leave a sting that lingers for the duration of the song. The track devolves into chaos with a chorus in which each singer recites their own lines like a litany. It comes to a climax with Brigders’ screams of “twenty dollars” before fading out into incoherent shouts from the singers. The track is exciting and emotional and existential, everything that’s to be expected from boygenius. 

“Emily I’m Sorry” opens with the line “she’s asleep in the backseat” which somehow manages to perfectly describe the feeling Bridgers is so gifted at capturing. With her signature whispery, melancholy vocals, Bridgers creates a wonderfully moody air with this song. Baker and Dacus do an excellent job with the backing vocals as well. The three voices blend together beautifully in harmonies that boygenius has come to be associated with. 

Bridgers told Rolling Stone she wrote the song in 2020, shortly after the release of her sophomore album “Punisher”. With distortion reminiscent of the album’s sixth track, “Chinese Satellite” and lyrics covering self-doubt and uncertainty, it is very much a Punisher-esque song. “Emily I’m Sorry”, however, feels like a “Punisher” outtake more than anything. The instrumentals in “$20” are more creative and interesting, but lyrically, the song doesn’t hold up to Dacus’ contribution “True Blue”, or many of Bridgers’ past tracks for that matter.

“True Blue” is a song of devotion. It is a picture of a truly healthy relationship. In this way it is a stark contrast to the other two tracks, which look into some of the worse parts of each singer’s psyche. Dacus, with her sharp-eyed, perceptive lyricism, channels the likes of Bruce Springteen, whom she has reported on multiple occasions to have grown up listening to. Dacus even released a cover of his 1984 hit “Dancing in the Dark” in 2019. Once again, Bridgers and Baker add soft, sweet harmonies that truly round out the song, making for a delightful final track. 

“The record” is set to drop Mar. 31.