"the record" Review
On March 31, indie supergroup boygenius released their debut album, “the record.” The group consists of famous sad women: Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker. As someone who was a fan of their group EP from 2018 as well as music from each of their solo careers, this album felt like "Avengers: Endgame" for sad women. And I have to say — “the record” did not disappoint. From upbeat rock-style tunes like “$20” and “Satanist” to gut-punching ballads like “Revolution 0” and “We’re in Love,” “the record” has it covered. There’s not a single skip on the 12-song album in my opinion, and I’m going to give you my rundown of each tune.
“Without You Without Them” – The album opens with Bridgers’, Dacus’, and Baker’s voices blended together in pleasing harmony with no accompaniment. While this song is shorter than the others (only 1:22), it’s probably one of the most tempting to sing along to for me. The message about personal connection is sweet and sentimental.
“$20” – Energetic percussion and instrumentals is what begins this song, a stark contrast from "Without You Without Them." Baker sings lead with backing vocals from Bridgers and Dacus, and the tone is rebellious and exciting. Their voices blend together really nicely at the end again, reminding listeners just how powerful this supergroup is. One of my favorites on the album.
“Emily I’m Sorry” – Bridgers takes the lead on this song, slow and reflective. Like the title implies, the lyrics are full of guilt as she apologizes for how she’s behaved in the past and who she’s becoming. The lyric “I can feel myself becoming somebody I’m not” is one of my favorites here and really sums up the regret that comes with change.
“True Blue” – Of the four songs that were released prior to the rest of the album (the others being “$20,” “Emily I’m Sorry,” and “Not Strong Enough”), this one may be my favorite. Dacus leads this one, singing about her personal connection with another person over a long period of time. The chorus gives me chills each time I hear it – the feeling of being known so well by another person is articulated beautifully and something that we can all find ourselves wanting.
“Cool About It” – Baker, Dacus, and Bridgers take separate turns singing verses in this song sampled from Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” The melody is simple and familiar, but the lyrics are about deeply personal struggles of trying to communicate with someone you care about. Bridgers’ verse at the end is the heart-breaking finale to an already emotional song.
“Not Strong Enough” – While this song is upbeat and one to nod your head along to, the lyrics are about experiences with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. I especially like the chorus of this song, once again featuring the perfect blend of their voices together. The message of the song is relatable and it’s a great pick if you want a song to scream along to.
“Revolution 0” – Bridgers leads this slow ballad about depression in a thoughtful and personal way, bringing in similar vibes to her “Punisher” album. This song made me cry when I first heard it, especially at the lyrics “if you’re not enough, then I give up and then nothing is.” One of my favorites on “the record” upon first listen.
“Leonard Cohen” – An upbeat song to counter the tears from “Revolution 0,” “Leonard Cohen” is a sweet and short song lead by Dacus about being grateful for another person and the connection found in a road trip. The tune is pleasant and positive, including a quote from Leonard Cohen to give the song its name.
“Satanist” – Baker is the first to sing on this rock-n-roll type song, with similar intense instrumentals to those heard on “$20.” Rebellious and containing sentiments of punk, the three sing about being anarchists together. However, the tone shifts towards the end into a dreamy ballad about nihilism, which is a nice contrast to the aggressive feel from the beginning.
“We’re In Love” – This is one of the most personal and tear-jerking songs on this album to me. Sung by Dacus, the slow melody accompanied by the intimate lyrics about trust and bonding move me so deeply. My favorite part is when she describes how they’ll find each other in their next lives – “there is something about you that I will always recognize,” Dacus sings. If I had to choose, this may be my favorite song on the whole album.
“Anti-Curse” – Baker picks up the pace again with this song about nostalgia and the thoughts that accompany dying. While the melody is faster and contains energy, Baker’s lyrics are thoughtful and have a tone of regret to them. “Tried to be a halfway decent friend, wound up a bad comedian,” she sings. I especially liked what goes unspoken in her lyrics but is heard in her voice.
“Letter to an Old Poet” – Such a beautiful song to close out this beautiful album. Sung by Bridgers, this song encapsulates the difficult feelings that come with realizing someone you love is not a good person. To finish the album, there’s a callback to the 2018 boygenius song “Me & My Dog,” with altered lyrics following the same melody that every boygenius fan is all too familiar with. “I can’t feel it yet, but I am waiting,” the three harmonize as the album closes out.
If you haven’t yet given “the record” a listen, I (obviously) highly recommend it. Packed with emotion and deep thoughts, the lyrics are unmatched — not to mention the memorable melodies that go along with them. boygenius is everything someone who listens to the modern indie genre could ask for, and “the record” is evidence of this. There’s something for everyone on this album — so go take 42 minutes out of your day to find out what that may be.