Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker are some of the brightest budding stars in the indie-rock / indie-folk scenes. When they announced the boygenius EP with three singles in August, it quickly became one of the year's most anticipated upcoming releases.
Phoebe Bridgers' infectious hooks, Lucy Dacus' distorted indie-rock guitar with precise lyrics, and Julien Baker's emo-tinged bedroom songwriting blend into one harmonious effort on their debut EP boygenius. Over the course of the album, the three take turns as leading artists and it works. The biggest problem may be the length, clocking in at just 21 minutes, boygenius will leave you wanting more.
Each artist brought a completed track and an unfinished idea they wanted to record with each other to the project and the cooperation added to each track. "Bite the Hand" features Dacus' lead vocals and it could have been an unfinished idea from her recent album Historian, but with Baker and Bridgers' higher registers haunting the chorus. Similarly in "Me & My Dog," Bridgers' vocals lead and it is driven by her personal and emotional lyrics, with a quirky hook that made her so popular but with Dacus and Baker providing harmonies.
"Souvenir" features each of the artists singing a verse and it would not sound out of place on either of their respective solo albums. Normally for a supergroup, this would be an indictment. However, due to each musician's similar influences and aesthetic traits, the transition is seamless and each song sounds at home together.
The moment it all clicks is on "Stay Down." The track mixes the sounds of Bridgers, Dacus, and Baker, building to the album's emotional climax. Baker's vocals are fragile and vulnerable but bursting with energy in the final moments. Simultaneously, Bridgers' emotional warmth and hope break through Dacus' distortion and crunch.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bridgers, Dacus, and Baker shared what the writing process was like:
Bridgers: Because we trusted each other creatively, we ended up showing each other a lot of our own unreleased shit that we felt weird or self-conscious about, and we really affirmed each other... It’s nice to record with people my own age. That feels good.
Dacus: I felt so much relief having the focus off me... Having about a third of the attention was wonderful.
Baker: Traditionally, harmonies are supposed to be clean and without affectation, letting the lead vocalist do the emoting... but our harmonies are often like a hidden, bolstering additional sound — more like a separate vocal line happening.
Naming a project of three wildly successful young female artists "boygenius" is a not-so-subtle nod to the double-standard and sexism in our culture today. In the same Rolling Stone interview, Bridgers shed some light on the band's name:
It’s the guy that walks into the room and maybe has half the information but totally commands the room in this crazy way... The kind of personality you trust because they’re loud. We all know those types of personalities, especially in music… And then we were like, ‘We should absolutely call the band that.... A lot of the time, that type of confidence isn’t bad. I actually want to take some more of that. I don’t want to apologize for myself for 15 minutes before I do something because I’m afraid of people not liking it. I wanna be a boy genius.
boygenius is an achievement on multiple fronts. Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker each leave their own distinctive imprint on several tracks and at times come together to make a sound unique and beautiful. Most importantly, the EP sounds like an intimate project between three friends sharing dreams, secrets, and fears. Our favorite trackers are "Me & My Dog," "Stay Down," "Bite the Hand," and "Ketchum, ID."
The boygenius EP is available on major streaming services, including Spotify below. Pick up the album on vinyl from Amazon on November 9.