sun 03/12/2023

Album: boygenius - The Record | reviews, news & interviews

Album: boygenius - The Record

Album: boygenius - The Record

Boygenius’ debut takes three generation-defining songwriters and forges an almighty collective

All in favour?

Maybe you’ve heard the Native American parable about the two wolves. An old Cherokee’s grandson is grappling with internal tensions; self-hatred and self-aggrandising.

For Phoebe Bridgers, one-third of indie supergroup boygenius (usually styled with no initial capital letter), this analogy sits at the heart of album standout ‘Not Strong Enough’. In it, the trio, completed by Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, let out the divine line “Always an angel / Never a god,” adding a wry smile to the delivery.

Subverting male hero worship is one of the (many) things that’s so refreshingly brilliant about a band like boygenius. Look at their 2018 self-titled EP where they sat on a couch in the very same formation as Crosby, Stills and Nash did on their debut. Or their near-perfect hommage to Nirvana. But unlike the conflict facing the wolf or the fractures that would face these rock heavyweights, boygenius is the sound of an almighty collective.

Captured in the January chill of Malibu at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La studio last year, the record welcomes some of indie rock’s finest players. Autolux's Carla Azar takes to the drumkit while Jay Som/Bachelor’s Melina Duterte appears on bass. Add to that engineer extraordinaire Catherine Marks (PJ Harvey, Wolf Alice) and you’ve got quite the production party. Opener ‘Without You, Without Them’ is an intimate, tender entrance to the group’s artistry possessing the vocal chops of fellow close harmony queens The Andrew Sisters. While Baker’s ‘Master’ holds the familiarity of late 90s Rilo Kiley with those woozy keys as the song descends into an angst-filled scream that rivals Wet Leg Rhian's best and loudest efforts. 

Baker and Dacus’ Southern roots shine through in ‘Cool About It’ with tender banjo strings. In the friendship honouring, ‘We’re In Love’, the latter continues to prove her knack for a tender soliloquy as she poses “If you rewrite your life, may I still play a part?” This decade has dished out a hugely successful, solo-facing few years for these generation-defining songwriters so far. the record is no exception. As their pal  Hayley Williams of Paramore enthuses: “They’re like the Avengers”. And with the world literally on fire right now, we certainly need ‘em.

Below: Watch the video for "Not Strong Enough" by boygenius

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