boygenius EP Review

Although scheduled for release on November 11th, October 26th marked the surprise digital release of the highly-anticipated EP from “indie-rock supergroup” boygenius. The trio, comprised of singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, was named with a firmly tongue-in-cheek nod to industry sexism and the generalization of “women in music.” Each of the three have produced highly successful solo albums in the past year, and they’ve come together in 2018 to combine their distinct styles in a self-titled EP.

boygenius is a collaboration in the true meaning of the word—without losing any of the individual magic of their solo work, the three artists have come together to create something entirely unique. The result is a hauntingly beautiful record where each artist has opportunities to showcase her own characteristic style, while balancing and layering their distinct voices and lyrical styles on each track.

The album opens with Dacus’s clear voice on “Bite the Hand,” singing alone against a constantly strumming guitar. Then, Bridgers and Baker join in: “I can’t love you how you want me to,” which the three of them repeat throughout the track, in overlapping and then in chilling simultaneous harmony. Bridgers sings the first verse of “Me and My Dog,” a track reminiscent of “Scott Street” in its jarring honesty and clever wordplay, starting off slow and building up to anthem-level energy.

“Stay Down,” the third single from the album, is a slower song evocative of Julien Baker’s solo work on Turn Out the Lights or Sprained Ankle. “I look at you and you look at a screen/I’m in the backseat of my body,” she sings in her characteristic, jarringly honest voice, before the other two voices join her for the powerfully emotional chorus.

The EP includes three new tracks: “Souvenir,” “Salt in the Wound,” and “Ketchum, ID.” The final, stripped-down track, “Ketchum, ID,” reveals the full potential of their harmony. The lyrics explore a fantasy of running away from the life of a touring musician to a simpler life in Ketchum, the Idaho mountainside town where Hemingway once moved to escape from city life. With its rich harmony and haunting lyrics, the track feels reminiscent of the acoustic country of Emmylou Harris, weaving images both timeless and distinctly American.

Exploring complex intertwined themes of love, vulnerability, and dependence, of freedom and what to do once you have it, boygenius combines the best of Bridger’s 2017 Stranger in the Alps, Baker’s 2017 Turn Out the Lights and Dacus’s 2018 Historian. The three will be touring together in November 2018, with Lucy Dacus opening and Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers co-headlining with their solo work. As boygenius, the three are truly doing what they do best, together.