Label: Polydor / Interscope Records
Released: 31st March 2023
What do you get when you cross three of the greatest songwriters of a generation? Pure magic. After a gruelling five-year wait, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers finally reunite for a full-length project, and ‘the record’ is nothing short of cosmic. From the way the trio’s vocals twist around one another in haunting harmony on opening track, ‘Without You Without Them’, it’s immediately clear that this is a connection of alchemic heights.
It’s a passing of the mic for the first few tracks – each with the opportunity to illuminate their own unique styles. The trio of singles (‘$20’, ‘Emily I’m Sorry’ and ‘True Blue’) that initially teased ‘the record’ established each of their different tones, but before long, they collapse into each other. Voices melt into one another like only a group who know each other inside and out could, each a sonic hand extending to their fellow members. “It feels good to be known so well,” sings Lucy Dacus on ‘True Blue’. It’s a sentiment that resonates throughout the album’s course – an intimate knowledge of one another, themselves and the musical world they’re creating together.
Perhaps a result of the unique potion of talent within the supergroup, ‘the record’ is filled with as much tenderness and gentle coaxing as it is with the prickling heat of shame and angst. It’s a task of navigation – from reading your friends to a T, to desperately trying to forget someone, to confessions of love so filled with devotion it’s almost hard to listen to. At times, the sincerity of Julien Baker’s delivery strikes like a knife, as on the tremulous ‘Anti-Curse’, while Phoebe Bridgers’ sardonic vocals elsewhere are alleviated by a chorus of strings, as on the arresting ‘Revolution O’. Lucy Dacus’ gut-wrenching lyrical genius is on full display throughout, but particularly on the quiet shudders of ‘We’re In Love’.
There’s bravery in numbers, and whilst all three have honed their ability to be vulnerable in their music long before this project, it seems their willingness to share those raw, wild truths is emboldened by one another’s company. It’s some of their best work, both collaboratively and otherwise, a real invitation to abandon uncertainty and simply find out. There’s room for error, room for mistakes, and room to put yourselves on full display. ‘the record’ asks some difficult questions (“Will you still love me if it turns out I’m insane?”), but it does so in a way that offers comfort. It’s a togetherness and an outpouring of love – for each other and for their creation. On ‘the record’, boygenius come together for something that is nothing short of seismic. Ambitious and inimitable, their first debut album is an earth-shattering feat.