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A lot has changed in the five years since Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers first banded together to release their collective self-titled 2018 EP, Boygenius. Drawn together over favourite authors and poets, this trio are more than indescribable chemistry and accidental music venue run-ins.

A supergroup like no other, each member of Boygenius has waded into the arena of making music that invites introspection. Take Dacus’ reeling reality in Night Shift, Bakers’ melancholic Appointments or Bridgers’ free-screaming I Know The End, the singer-songwriters prove their ability to pull apart emotionality in moving ways.

In The Record, Boygenius are together, in every sense, even when they’re scared they might not be. Listening through, the trio’s complimentary skillset speaks like a lesson on their learned closeness. A brilliant album, here’s our breakdown of moments in Boygenius’ debut, track-by-track.

Without You Without Them

Boygenius know how to make an entrance. Picking up where they left off (quite literally), their opening track follows on from their 2018 release, with Lucy Dacus leading the trio in tranquil barbershop-style harmonies. But, make no mistake, the band won’t let you off that easily. Beneath their bright-toned vocals sits the presence of their shared history, as gratitude is passed back generations. As if to reaffirm their bond, the band, again, invite one another into their lives – almost like an inauguration into their shared storytelling. And, so, we’re left with them calling upon one another to talk, to say in touch (“Speak to me / Until your history’s no mystery to me”), and to hold one another up. 


It’s easy to discern which track belongs to which one of the boys. $20 is inextricably Julien Baker. From its guitar riffs to picture-painting of American politics, it’s a recognisable token that she’s mastered on her own albums. Dacus and Bridgers both weigh in; the latter colouring the swelling outro with throaty screams that wouldn’t be amiss on a rebellious 90s grunge-spirited rock record, while Dacus holds fort across the song’s punchy, paced verses.  

Emily, I’m Sorry

While queer Boygenius lore set this track alight online, it’s not quite about what you think. Instead, as Bridgers’ revealed to Rolling Stone, the track deals with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty tied to the pandemic. Part a Boygenius song, part a Bridgers-only affair, Emily, I’m Sorry is perfectly painful and wouldn’t be out of place on a Punisher B-side. 

True Blue

As if by intentional rotation, Dacus shines through on True Blue. The singer’s vocals are brought front and centre while Baker and Bridgers hang back. As the boys turnover the worn and weathered meaning of love, the mellow, soft-spinning True Blue fills a comfortable groove in The Record’s tracklist. 

Cool About It

Coloured with acoustic chords and faint banjo instrumentation, this folk-rock track falls narrative first with each member claiming a verse as they each thread in different stories of running into an ex-partner. Imagining another kind of intimacy, Cool About It is a credit to the trio’s strength as songwriters.

Not Strong Enough

A nod to Sheryl Crow, a The Cure reference mid-song, and a pointed call out to the treatment of women in the industry, Not Strong Enough shows off the character of the boys. One of the band’s more communal efforts, the track loops back to the album’s earlier rock and, later, gives way to an amped-up, euphoric feeling. Stacked upon the song’s deep-cut lyrics, the trio verbalise a sense of collapse against the knotted relationship of trying to be there for someone else. As the bridge picks up, a fleeting burst of synths ripple through the bridge, as atmospheric guitar strumming cascades through adding another layer to this bold, full-bodied feeling of joyous indie-rock. Even after the song has finished, you’ll find yourself wanting to scream: “Always an angel, never a god”.

Revolution 0 

Dialling things back, Bridgers leads a gentle acoustic ballad that ponders over purpose and the position of love. Exhausted, solitarily, she asked: “If it isn’t love then what the fuck is it?”.

Leonard Cohen

The shortest track on The Record, Leonard Cohen unsurprisingly refers to one of his own tracks, The Anthem, released in 1992. Leonard’s own track revolves around accepting imperfection and, in a while, the boys agree, while acknowledging their own differences. Also, lyrically, Dacus self-referentially casts back to a line in True Blue.


Nihilism, existentialism and broad philosophical questions aren’t unfamiliar to Dacus, Bridgers, and Baker’s work. So, as Satanist unravels with a string of semi-transactional questions, the trio are seemingly ascertaining how much they can get away with. Set against gritty, heavy riffs, the track quakes as Bridgers lets out a guttural scream. Post-bridge instrumental, Baker carries the torch taking her turn musing, to “wonder” as the now-fizzled-out guitar mania comes to a standstill.

We’re In Love

A Dacus song through and through, We Are Love spotlights the songwriter’s ability to encompass a feeling and play it through. But, also, it’s a song for her band – a vulnerable commitment to what they are. A departure from the album’s selective rock vision, Dacus leads meandering through joyful possibilities, still while prepping for casualty: “If you rewrite your life, may I still play a part?” 


Pushing their sound to the limit, Baker bellows out into the open pulling on the thread of a romance, she reminisces on “unpacking god” and playing with fireworks. As the track’s bridge lands, tumbling drums slip into thrashing guitars. And, in the intro, she faces the outcome, writing words to the “worst” love song: “Soundin’ out the foreign characters / An incantation like an anti-curse / Or even a blessing”. 

Letter To An Old Poet

Waving the flag to an old self. There are moments in The Record where Bridgers’ contributions are bigger than the cohesion of the record itself, and this is one of them. Letter To An Old Poet feels like an invisible string threaded to Punisher, Bridgers and back. But, it doesn’t stop there, either. Bridgers’ considered lyricism continues, almost overlapping lines for the 2018 track, Me & My Dog. The track itself also ties into the previous release, featuring sounds of the crowd in the background. As the song softly swells, the close-out lines lead into Bridgers’ calling for happiness, hopeful, and waiting. 

GAY TIMES rating: ★★★★★