The highly anticipated return of the indie-rock supergroup is finally here–marked by the release of three original singles and the announcement of their upcoming album.
CREDIT: Rolling Stone
I remember the moment vividly. It was 12:35 pm on January 18th and I was just leaving my third lecture of the morning, walking through Turlington Plaza at the busiest time of day. It was the second week of the semester, so the reality of my workload and the accompanying stress was starting to set in. That was when I looked down at my phone to see a Twitter notification that stopped me right in my tracks. I had never opened Spotify so fast in my life to listen to not one, but three singles released by none other than indie-rock trio boygenius.
The band, composed of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, hasn’t released any work together since their original self-titled EP back in 2018. Fans have been eagerly anticipating new music from the group after weeks of speculating about their return.
Rumors first started back in November when the trio was spotted on a street corner together posing for the camera. Fans quickly recognized their looks as a direct reference to Nirvana’s feature in the January 1994 Rolling Stone issue.
Fuel was added to the fire on January 10th when boygenius was listed by name in the 2023 Coachella lineup, promising their reunion and affirming hope for a new project.
These speculations were confirmed on January 18th with the announcement of their first full-length album. This was paired with the release of boygenius’ own Rolling Stone cover issue, which was a recreation of that by Nirvana in January 1994.
Their debut album The Record is set to release on March 31st, 2023. In addition to the album announcement, the group simultaneously released three singles off the record. The strengths and styles of each individual artist are emphasized in a respective track.
“$20” is a chaotic, fast-tempo pop-punk anthem led by Julien Baker. Baker begins the harmonies, which are then finished by Bridgers and Dacus. In the last chorus, we hear Bridgers perform a guttural scream, as in the song, she desperately begs for twenty dollars. If there is one thing we can look forward to in a new record from Bridgers is hearing her scream some emotionally poignant lyrics (e.g. “Georgia” from Stranger in the Alps and “I Know the End” from Punisher).
Bridgers takes the reins in “Emily, I’m Sorry” with the lead vocals, while Baker and Dacus provide backing vocals and harmonies. This heart-wrenching ballad is speculated to be based on the alleged relationship between Bridgers and Emily Bannon. The pair was rumored to be in a relationship back in 2018 before splitting sometime during 2019. In this track, Bridgers is asking Emily for forgiveness for her wrongdoings through her emotionally raw and honest lyricism.
Their third single, “True Blue,” puts Dacus’ style in front view. The track divulges themes of leaving home, reminiscent of Dacus’ third studio album Home Video. The song explores the idea of a loyal relationship where both partners know each other better than themselves. This ode to a trustworthy and reliable relationship stands out among the three singles as emulating a warmer, optimistic tone.
Their songwriting is emotionally raw, often heart-wrenching, and brutally honest while unpacking deeply personal struggles. Their lyrics resonate deeply with fans, especially among young queer people, who find solace in their storytelling. The group discusses themes such as heartbreak, sexuality, mental health, familial conflicts, religion, and the struggles that come with the complexities of our existence.
Boygenius, however, has been clear to point out that they refuse to be characterized based on just one aspect of their identity. Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus do not want to be praised based on holding a particular identity, but rather for their work itself. In their recent interview with Rolling Stone, the band expresses how it shouldn’t be construed as “remarkable” that their group consists of all queer women. Dacus describes how she doesn’t want to be boxed into the “sad girl” trope and Baker states that the quality of their music shouldn’t be “weighted because of all these extraneous identifiers that [they] work within.” The art they create stands on its own, and it doesn’t need to be tied to a label for it to reach into the hearts of those who listen.
Their skillfully crafted songwriting, captivating melodies, and production value speak for themselves.
We can finally look forward to more from boygenius as the release of their first full-length studio album is on the way, following a four-year drought since their last group project. Before then, we can hope to hear announcements of more live shows in addition to their performance at Coachella later this year.
While we not-so-patiently wait for March 31st to roll around, you can find me in the library binging all of their solo albums as I study for my first round of exams this semester. And if you happen to see me walking through Turlington with my headphones in, I am probably listening to these three singles on loop until they are seared into my brain.
Micayla Vereb is an Online Writer for Rowdy Magazine. If she isn't trying a new recipe or random hobby, she is probably trying to slowly chip away at her endless watchlist on Letterboxd. You can find her on the fifth floor of Marston staring at Century Tower instead of doing her schoolwork. Her Instagram (and Letterboxd) is @micaylavereb