American indie-rock supergroup boygenius has announced their second studio album, “the record,” which is set to release March 31 of this year. The group, which consists of artists Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, was formed in 2018.
Boygenius has most recently appeared at the 2022 Ally Coalition Talent Show in New York City, where they performed with artists such as Jack Antonoff of Bleachers and Matty Healy of The 1975. Following growing anticipation of their new album, boygenius dropped three surprise singles Jan. 18, 2023. Each song spotlights one of the minds behind the supergroup to create a beautiful blend of all three artists’ styles.
The first single, titled “$20”, spotlights many of Julien Baker’s signature musical and lyrical motifs using peppy rhythmic guitar tracks and references to American pop culture. Throughout the verses of the piece, Baker references classic cars such as the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Camaro juxtaposed with lyrics about leaving someone when things get tough.
Baker also references the iconic photo titled “Flower Power,” a haunting image photographed by Bernie Boston during the March on the Pentagon in 1967 that captures a protester placing a carnation into the barrel of an army soldier’s M14 rifle. Baker’s lyrics paint the picture of a young woman falling into a particularly cataclysmic form of love. The song’s first line says it best – “It’s a bad idea and I’m all about it.”
In the second single, 28-year-old Phoebe Bridgers takes the lead vocals. The song, titled “Emily I’m Sorry”, is an emotional indie ballad that is sure to pull at any listener’s heartstrings. In the first verse, Bridgers sings about her partner having a bad dream — a theme that is recurring within her solo discography with songs like “Georgia,” “Funeral,” and “Moon Song.”
The instrumentation of this track also has similarities to Bridgers’s solo work, with simple percussion accompanying the vocals during the verses and eerie vocal harmonies that repeat in each chorus. In this track, Bridgers sings of the deterioration of a particularly intimate relationship, writing, “Emily, forgive me, can we make it up as we go along?”.
Fans and critics speculate that ‘Emily,’ the lover name-dropped in the song, could be Emily Bannon, who has appeared in several of Bridgers’s posts on social media and vice versa. The two were speculated to be in a polyamorous relationship until 2019, shortly before the release of Bridgers’s most popular album “Punisher.” According to an article for Rolling Stone Magazine, Bridgers said the demo for “Emily I’m Sorry” was the catalyst for boygenius’s sophomore album. This track is a beautiful, haunting ode to Bridgers’s work with the perfect amount of Baker and Dacus’s musical influence.
The last track released as a single for the record is “True Blue,” a song spearheaded by singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus. Dacus, most known for her song “Night Shift,” expands upon themes like falling in love, trust and growing up, all previously discussed in her third studio album “Home Video.” This chill, mid-tempo love song is the perfect blend between Baker’s avoidant punk piece and Bridgers’s devastating ballad.
“True Blue” tells the story of two long-time lovers who seem to know one another better than themselves. Dacus mentions small details about her lover, such as their birthday and their hatred of humidity, but also alludes to a temporary separation in the past that they “don’t talk about/because it doesn’t matter anymore”. This track is perfect for fans and listeners who enjoy boygenius’ collaborative style, but are content in their relationships and can’t relate to songs like “$20” and “Emily I’m Sorry.” The highlight of this track is a particularly emotional phrase in the chorus, “But it feels good to be known so well/I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself.”
All in all, these three singles are an exciting insight into the rest of “the record”. All three tracks are drastically different in tempo and style, which can give first-time listeners a sense of musical whiplash. However, boygenius continues to impress with eloquent lyricism and top-notch production. Will the rest of the album be just as good as the three lead singles? Only time will tell. Until then, our sneak peek of “the record” gets 4.5/5 Ford Thunderbirds.