boygenius: The Record [Album Review]

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The Record
Interscope Records [2023]

The Fire Note headphone approved

boygenius is the supergroup trio comprised of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. Their debut album is the follow up to the group’s fantastic 2018 self-titled EP. At the time of its 6-song release, boygenius seemed like a real treat getting to hear these talented artists come together in one place and sound like a legitimate group. Too many times this “supergroup” scenario will bring tons of hype but the actual results won’t live up to it. Completely understandable of course when you think about songwriters and bands processes when it comes to making a record. Proving that lightning can strike more than once, boygenius’ debut, The Record, is a fully realized cohesive album that blends the multitude of talents here, harnesses all of the increased success and experience the individuals have achieved to this date and gives the word “supergroup” an entire new meaning!

The first thing that you will notice on The Record is how big sounding the album comes off. It is an immediate musical expansion from the EP. It has a true balance between softer acoustic deliveries and the explosive pieces that contain an indie guitar rock drive. The album has catchy wordplay heart on the sleave lyrics around every corner and of course its harmonizing vocals which soar seal it all together. This meticulous combination gives the album a layered depth that I didn’t totally expect coming into the record and truly takes the recording to another level. The Record also finds some great help added to the sessions which includes Jay Som’s Melina Duterte on bass, Carla Azar (Autolux) on drums, Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin as engineer, and Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice, Manchester Orchestra, The Killers) on co-production.

Every song emotes pure feelings and depending on the track it really could be from all three artists regardless of who is on lead or the actual writer. The album was recorded in January 2022, at Shangri-La, in Malibu with ten-hour days every day, for a month. This highlights the success of the process as The Record wasn’t just the three members trading files across the internet in different parts of the country. This synergy and connection is real. Bridges, Baker and Dacus connection is real. Every song sounds like a universal thought and feeling moving in the same direction. Each song on this record is very good but I did find myself finding the guitar driven songs like “$20” and “Satanist” grabbing my ear quicker. Although, lines like “When you don’t know who you are / You fuck around and find out.” in “True Blue” or “You felt like an idiot, adding an hour to the drive / But it gave us more time to embarrass ourselves / Telling stories we wouldn’t tell anyone else” during “Leonard Cohen” brings the listener closer into the experience that most can relate to from their own life journey. Anytime, an artist can connect with the audience like this, it is memorable and that is exactly how The Record plays out.

It will be interesting to see when we get to hear a potential sophomore record from boygenius but based on the elevated quality and connection on The Record, I think it will be a given. It could still easily be another 5 years away knowing that this artist trio will all be releasing another round of solo records but it will be worth the wait. This is one “supergroup” that surpasses any hype they previously were given and the trio delivers one of the best albums of the year!

“$20” / “Not Strong Enough” / “Satanist”

Snail Mail / Wild Flag / Soccer Mommy

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Thomas Wilde
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