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mollygregson
7th February 2023

boygenius return with three new singles ahead of the release of the record

Triple threat boygenius return with an equal triple threat of singles, their first since 2018
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boygenius return with three new singles ahead of the release of the record
boygeniusPhoto: Harrison Whitford

In a week that saw Phoebe Bridgers’ fans mourning the loss of her track ‘Waiting Room’ from Spotify, grieving listeners were treated to the return of boygenius, after a nearly five-year hiatus. 

boygenius is the super-group comprised of indie darlings Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Bridgers herself. They previously stunned listeners with their 2018 self-titled EP. Now the trio are returning with a brand-new album, aptly titled the record

Despite the seeming lack of creativity in the naming of the record, boygenius as a moniker comes from a creatively subversive place, so perhaps there is more behind the album name. Certainly, the name fits in line with the humour of the group. They constantly seek to re-appropriate classic rock clichés, posing like the debut album cover of folk-rock super-group Crosby, Stills and Nash on their own debut EP cover. 

boygenius EP. Official Album Art.

boygenius was named as a comment on the essentialism that all three artists faced, as women that make music of a similar genre, even if every other aspect of their art is clearly distinct from each other. It refers to the male ‘tortured genius’ whose every thought from birth is considered brilliant, Baker remarked in a 2018 interview. This contrasts with the dismissal that each of them faced being labelled as ‘sad girl indie’, diminishing their craft down to the ‘trope’ of being a woman. 

Their return was teased when the line-up for the 2023 Coachella festival was announced earlier this month. boygenius featured on the bill, and their comeback was confirmed via the release of three songs, ‘$20’, ‘Emily I’m Sorry’, and ‘True Blue’.

These tracks were realised in synchronicity, and each highlights a different member of the band as vocal lead. They were recorded individually, due to scheduling conflicts, so the tracks each reflect the artistic styles of their primary authors. This makes them less in line with earlier boygenius material, and more like the collaboration that they’ve had on each other’s solo work, such as on Bridgers’ 2020 track ‘Graceland Too’ or on Baker’s 2021 single ‘Favor’. 

‘$20’ feels the most collaborative of the tracks, it sees Julien Baker taking on the lead vocal as she depicts the grungy realities of someone on the run. The opening line: “It’s a bad idea and I’m all about it” sets the tone of the single, as a dingy rock track that highlights the flighty and economically unsustainable existence of someone constantly moving from place to place. It differentiates the song from the sweet, often melancholic solo stylings of each of the artists and exemplifies the combined powers of boygenius.

boygenius functions as a synthesis of all three artists capabilities, where they raise each other up, and don’t just back each other up. Such is the hope that this style of equality continues throughout the record, as the lack of a distinct front-woman drives the power behind the project.

‘Emily I’m Sorry’ sounds more like a Phoebe Bridgers solo song, but this isn’t exactly a bad thing. The track is a beautiful song about getting lost in love, told by the master of the gut-wrenching love ballad herself. It’s written and produced by all three members, so even though Bridgers’ vocally takes centre stage, the queer love story depicted in the song is informed by all of their experiences as three queer women.

The song’s narrative feels earnest and grounded in true feelings. Bridgers’ sings the verses alone, with Dacus and Baker joining in on the hook, which gives the song an impression of a particularly personal anecdote that is backed and supported by the experiences of more generalised heartache. “Emily I’m sorry I just / Make it up as I go along / yet I can feel myself becoming / someone only you could want”, they all sing. It feels poignant and individualised, yet resonating with so many.

The third single, ‘True Blue’, gives Lucy Dacus the mic. It tells of a similar but less tragic story to that of ‘Emily I’m Sorry’, which sees intimacy with a partner as joyful rather than resulting in losing oneself. That closeness, and vulnerability, marks the positive connections that we form with each other. “It feels good to be known so well/ I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself”, reminding listeners that it is not inevitable to lose yourself in a relationship, after the heartbreak of the previous track. Opening yourself up to another can also expand your understanding of yourself. Despite the melancholic title, it’s the most uplifting of the new boygenius songs, and a welcome addition to the track list of the record. 

All three tracks illustrate different facets of boygenius’ genius, and it’s an extremely promising first look at the record.  

 

the record is out on the March 31. Listen to all three singles below: 


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