EP review: “boygenius” by boygenius

Sydney Chatani, Program Director

INTRODUCTION: Boygenius is an alternative super-group consisting of musicians Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers. Their self-titled debut EP was released on October 26th, 2018. Though each member was already well-established in their individual careers at the time of the EP’s release, their talent truly shines when they come together. Each member brings their own stylistic flair to the table in order to create a dynamic, beautiful piece of alternative-folk music.

 

TRACK-BY-TRACK REVIEW:

  • Bite The Hand: The first track on the EP sees Lucy Dacus taking lead on vocals, with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker on backing vocals. Opening gently with distorted guitar strumming, the track soon erupts into a full-blown alternative track, with pounding drums, intricate guitar riffs, and a haunting repetition of the lyric: “I can’t love you how you want me to.”
  • Me & My Dog: In arguably the best song on “boygenius,” Bridgers takes on lead vocals, with lyrics fixating on the fall-out from a broken relationship. The chorus is heartbreakingly honest: “I never said I’d be all right, just thought I could myself together, when I couldn’t breathe I went outside, don’t know why I thought it’d be any better, I’m fine now, it doesn’t matter.” The nice part of this song is that, even though all three members harmonize in the chorus, their individual voices stand out and mesh together beautifully. 
  • Souvenir: This is one of the more toned down songs on the EP and is notable for its unconventional song structure. Instead of having a typical chorus, refrain, and bridge, “Souvenir” simply consists of three verses — each sung by Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus, respectively. With no instrumentals asides acoustic guitar, violin, and banjos, this track allows for their vocals to truly shine. 
  • Stay Down: Julien Baker is the primary vocalist in “Stay Down,” with Dacus and Bridgers offering background vocals in the third verse. Supported by electronic synths, violins, and gentle drum beats, the lyrics describe a difficult break-up. Baker likens the break-up to a physical fight: “Wasn’t a fighter until somebody told me I had better learn to lean into the punch, so it don’t hurt as bad when they leave, there you were, turning your cheek.” The emotional intelligence the lyrics convey in “Stay Down” is quite impressive. 
  • Salt In The Wound: Driven by piano and a distorted electric guitar, Dacus, Baker, and Bridgers explore the intricacies of a relationship that is seemingly in limbo. The instrumentals start off quiet and simple, only to explode in the final chorus and outro — additionally, their vocals in this track are the strongest, with Bridgers hitting a high C#. It feels like it should’ve been the last track on the EP.
  • Ketchum, ID: The last track on boygenius is a gorgeous, acoustic piece detailing homesickness and the anomie that comes with being in your twenties. In the chorus, the three harmonize: “I am never anywhere, anywhere I go, when I’m home, I’m never there long enough to know.” It’s a beautiful ode to feeling lost.

 

SUMMARY: With a run-time of only twenty-one minutes, boygenius makes a serious impact on folk-inspired alternative music. There’s not a weak moment present on the EP. Every track is deliberate — vocal delivery, harmonizations, intricate lyrics, explosive crescendos that descend into stark silence. While each track is emotionally heavy in its own way, it’s not dreary and exhausting to listen to. Rather, you’re hanging onto their every word, anticipating the beauty that is to come next. I’d recommend this for any fans of their solo work, as well as fans of alternative-folk music. 5/5 Spinnaker Sails.

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