Nearly five years after its seismic self-titled EP, boygenius has returned for its indie pop crown. Made up of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, the trio was known for their rock-infused melodies and biting lyricism. Those words stung in their beauty and sincerity. Take one of their leading hits from 2018, “Me & My Dog,” in which the girl group croons, “I wanna be emaciated / I wanna hear one song without thinking of you / I wish I was on a spaceship / Just me and my dog and an impossible view.” With that sonic poetry under their belt, one would expect a grand return to the industry. And, if its three-song preview tells us anything, it’s that boygenius is coming back with a bang.
Between 2018 and now, Baker, Bridgers and Dacus have crafted immense solo careers. Baker released her third studio album, “Little Oblivions,” back in 2021. Mixing acoustic indie with pangs of anger and rage, Baker engaged rock audiences across the country. Recently, Baker co-headlined the Wild Hearts Tour with Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen. Bridgers’ fame should come as no surprise, from her famed SNL guitar-breaking stint to her feature on “Red (Taylor’s Version)” (2021). After traveling the world on her Reunion Tour, Bridgers is now set to open for Taylor Swift in multiple cities on the Eras Tour. The final member of the group, Dacus, found national acclaim in her recent solo project, “Home Video” (2021). This album led Dacus to traverse the continent on her North American tour, in which she was famously forced to perform entire concerts lying down on a couch after suffering from two herniated discs. Dacus’ so-called “couch tour” only boosted her public profile.
After years of surprise performances with one another, boygenius has officially reunited for its debut album “the record.” With the full 12 song album to be released on March 31, 2023, “the record” doubles the song count of the group’s 2018 EP. The album also shows a boost in industry cred. Where the original EP was produced by small-scale indie house Matador Records, boygenius’ 2023 return will be produced by industry giant Interscope. With a Rolling Stonecover in tow, things are certainly on the up-and-up for boygenius.
Releasing three songs off the new record on Jan. 18, the album preview shows off the sheer talent of Baker, Bridgers and Dacus, both as individuals and as a group. “$20” leans more into Baker’s sonic influences, with its thrashing guitars and infectious bassline. With a jarring closer of Bridgers screaming “20 dollars” at the top of her lungs, the song calls back to some of Baker’s more throaty songs, like “Turn Out the Lights” (2017). Second in the preview, “Emily I’m Sorry” pulls on some of Bridgers’ songwriting staples, with a low-strumming acoustic melody and eerie background harmonies. Bridgers is said to have sent “Emily I’m Sorry” to Baker and Dacus right after the release of her album “Punisher” (2020), providing an impetus for the reunion. The final song available as of now, “True Blue” is marked with Dacus’ distinctive style of poetic storytelling. The lyrics stun in their authentic, unadorned beauty: “But it feels good to be known so well / I can't hide from you like I hide from myself / I remember who I am when I'm with you / Your love is tough, your love is tried and true-blue.” It’s songwriting gold.
While each of the three songs shows off the individual talents of Baker, Bridgers and Dacus respectively, it is the group cohesion of the three that creates boygenius’ unending allure. Their voices blend effortlessly and yet remain distinctive enough that one can pull out individual artists’ lines like easter eggs. With nine more songs on the way, one must wait with bated breath for the magic to come.