Abbie On Aux: boygenius’ ‘The Record’ is a testament to the love the group members share

Consisting of Phoebe Bridgers,  Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, boygenius is a band that brings songwriting and collaboration to a whole new level. (Courtesy: Brain Gallagher)

A supergroup of three outstanding female solo artists, who are all best friends, is pretty rare. If boygenius hadn’t already proved their ability to make killer music with their self-titled EP in 2018, they certainly have now. “The Record” –– their perfectly titled, first full-fledged album –– is a testament to the indie-rock genius of each member. Consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, boygenius is a band that brings songwriting and collaboration to a whole new level.

The three lead singles were each written separately: Baker’s “$20,” Bridgers’ “Emily I’m Sorry,” and Dacus’ “True Blue.” Each single tells a personal narrative from each group member’s perspective. With the release of three distinctly different singles prior to their album release, it was hard to decipher what this meant for the level of collaboration to expect on the record.

Listening to “The Record” makes it apparent that what changed for the group since 2018 is two key elements: collaboration and friendship. The recording for their six-track EP took place over four quick days. However, for “The Record,” the group members — also known as “the boys” — sent each other lyrics and voice recordings. Dacus then compiled a Google Drive to organize their ideas over the span of two years. The boys spent a month recording their masterpiece in Malibu, California, and spent every second — 10 hours of recording each day, to be specific — of it working together.

Once I pressed play on “The Record”’s first track “Without You Without Them,” I knew the album was a testament to the love one can only share with a best friend. The hauntingly beautiful isolated vocals of the boys throughout this song reach deep into the hearts of listeners. The song is guided by the question “Who would I be without you, without them?” in reference to the intricacies that make someone unique. This delicate opening track sets the theme of love and intimacy into action. The boys gently sing, “I want you to hear my story and be a part of it” as we start the journey through the album.

“Cool About It” is exactly as its title claims, a chill, folksy song led by Baker’s calm tone. The song’s message is all too relatable: wanting to remain cool in a heated situation with a partner. Bridgers’ verse uses the example of taking a partner’s medicine to get inside their brain. At the same time, she admits she’d rather pretend that she can’t tell her partner is lying. This reflects a lyric from Baker’s chorus, “Wishin’ you were kind enough to be cruel about it,” which guides the theme of desiring transparency in relationships.

“Not Strong Enough” was the fourth single released and the most upbeat track on the album. The catchy beat and Bridger’s enchanting vocals make it impossible not to sway along. The song addresses the tendency to not feel capable of being in a stable relationship. At the core of the lyrics is the idea that everything that’s wrong with ourselves is a reason why we aren’t good enough for someone else. In their Rolling Stone cover story, Bridgers explained “Self-hatred is a god complex sometimes.” On the track, each boy seems to interpret this concept on their own verses, coming together for an impactful bridge, chanting: “Always an angel, never a god.” This refrain touches on a larger idea –– one that is central to the band’s identity and name –– that men are placed on a pedestal for doing the bare minimum and women are reduced to shallow standards. 

“Leonard Cohen” is another example of boygenius being right on the nose. This one might be my favorite if it weren’t so damn short. Although disguised as a song about Leonard Cohen’s horny but thoughtful poetry, at its very core this song is about the friendship the three band members share. The song was inspired by a group drive into Los Angeles, where Bridgers wanted to share a song with her friends and accidentally missed the exit. The second verse might be the best reflection of boygenius yet, with quip remarks honoring an inspiration –– who also deserves to be lightly roasted.

“Satanist” is the album’s angsty track that compliments the individuality of each band member and gets extra points for adding more samples of Bridgers screaming. All the boys share their own form of rebellion: Baker’s satanism, Bridgers’ anarchism and Dacus’ nihilism. However, the boys flip the switch of these concepts by questioning if anything matters in a world that is, frankly, shit. Furthermore, their rebellious lines all lead with a question: Will you be this with me? At the root of their defiant beliefs is the desire to be together and to share their experiences with someone that matters.

Next, “We’re In Love” is an open love letter from Dacus to her bandmates. Oftentimes we expect friendships to last forever without taking the time to understand that, like romantic relationships, these connections are fragile and deserve care. The track is breathtakingly vulnerable and is an open dialogue about how important platonic relationships are for our souls.

When “Letter To An Old Poet” begins fans will immediately recognize it because it interpolates the band’s 2018 hit “Me & My Dog,” a gut-wrenching breakup track. On “Letter To An Old Poet” Bridgers has transitioned into the healing stages of the relationship, proven by the choice of the word “happy” for the bridge. Bridgers noted on the Pitchfork podcast that she wanted to do the “emaciated” line from “Me & My Dog,” but change it to something more satisfying, which is when Dacus recommended “happy”. With Dacus and Baker’s lyrical and emotional support, Bridgers is able to grow from her experiences and make growth in her lyricism as well. 

The level of collaboration and teamwork on “The Record” is evident throughout the songs, which all showcase the relationships the boys share. Not only does the album prove that boygenius isn’t going anywhere, but it shows that their friendship is one of a kind. Taking the time to understand the writing and message of the album is a vulnerable experience not only for its creators but for fans as well. At its core, the album is all about the importance of loving your friends, openly and intimately.

Abbie Bobeck SC ’26 is from Washington, DC. She loves spring in Claremont, pool days and when boygenius tours in Pomona.

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