The word “supergroup” sounds powerful on its own, but put it in the hands of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, and it means something new altogether. The group called boygenius reunited to release its debut full-length album, the record, Friday. Its unified, confident sound intertwines the artists’ individual voices while feeling cohesive.
The album starts with a short, low-production acapella harmony that feels intimate and well-balanced, showing the power of the group without the need for an instrumental. It jumps into three songs brought to the album by each artist: first “$20” from Baker, then “Emily I’m Sorry” from Bridgers and “True Blue” from Dacus to finish the set.
While you can tell one artist forefronts each track, their distinct sounds mesh seamlessly to create an album so pragmatic it feels meant to be. The songs discuss heartbreak, anger, growing up and friendship.
In every song on the album, there are beautiful moments of harmony between the trio. It is quite impressive that the group can have such an amazing blend with their solidly unique voices, which stand out when featured alone so you can always tell who’s singing.
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My favorite track is “Not Strong Enough” because I am a sucker for any sad song that sounds a little happier than its lyrics let on. The song has a deceivingly peppy rock backtrack with percussion that wants to make you dance, but its lyrics say otherwise. The song discusses dealing with personal and mental health issues and not being there for a partner because of them.
The group first came together for an EP titled boygenius in 2018, when they were booked to tour together. The name of the new album is a testament to how it didn’t need a name — it’s just the record — illustrating the group’s confidence together.
“Not Strong Enough” also plays with gender norms, as a line in the chorus sings “The way I am / Not strong enough to be your man,” while the repeating line in the bridge “Always an angel, never a god.” They counter each other in how we think of gender in relationships. Even the band’s name, “boygenius,” is a sly reference to the way society tells boys they will rule the world when they grow up.
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The group takes inspiration from other classic rock legends and folk artists, such as Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Elliott Smith and Leonard Cohen.
“Cool About It” takes inspiration from Simon and Garfunkel, with the first line of the song, “Met you at the dive bar to go shoot some pool,” following the same melody of the duo’s song, “The Boxer.”
Later in the album is a song titled “Revolution 0,” a reference to the songs “Revolution 1” or “Revolution 9” by The Beatles. The song also takes inspiration from Elliott Smith, a long-time hero of Bridgers.
The album comes to a close with “Letter To An Old Poet.” It calls back to a career-building song for the band, “Me & My Dog,” as Bridgers sings about the way friends influence our lives.