Six songs and 20 minutes is not even close to enough for one of this year’s finest releases. Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus’ self-titled EP brings together all of their positive facets and turns it into something brilliant.
Bakers’ Turn Out the Lights, Bridgers’ Stranger in The Alps and Dacus’ Historian have each been met with critical acclaim in the past 12 months. Although there was a risk of bringing all of their characteristics together, it’s created the perfect storm.
The poetic folk of Bridgers, Dacus’ dry witted indie-rock and the dramatic emotion of Baker is exhibited across the six compositions to create an EP that is all together seamless, coherent and still independent from their solo content.
When they first came together in 2016, they were in their early 20s, on upward curves in their careers and drawing attention from the music industry. However, instead of forming something together they instead chose to begin group texts, email threads, as well as an online document in which they shared content ranging from their favourite authors, as well as various lyrics and writings. Two years later, they made the decision to turn this into something tangible and the result is the astounding Boygenius.
Opener ‘Bite the Hand’ emits Dacus’ customary guitar tone as the song’s directness grows in stature before Baker and Bridgers join in to harmonise and create what is a powerful and emotive composition: “I can’t love you how you want me to,” she confrontationally sings.
Bridgers’ ‘Me & My Dog’, meanwhile, is the finest track of the bunch, as she ponders the frustration of an ex-lover and craving escapism. This manifests into delicate, breath-taking lyrics sung beautifully to create a delicate juxtaposition.
‘Souvenir’ then surges and swells as gentle bass notes and subtle acoustics lead up to a crescendo of a triple threat of layered “oohs”. The Baker-penned ‘Stay Down’ is another delightful mix of riches that uses religious imagery to convey her dissatisfaction: “In the back seat of my body / I’m just steering my life in the video game. Push me down into the water like a sinner / Hold me under and I’ll never come up again.”
Walls of guitar and drums then take hold for ‘Salt in The Wound’, as Dacus emits out some of her finest writings:
But you take and you take/Like silks up my sleeve
Tied corner to corner/Never ending.
Trick after trick/I make the magic,
And you unrelentingly/Ask for the secret.
‘Ketchum, ID’ then closes proceedings as acoustic finger picking backs up what is an ode to the loneliness of a life on the road.
Boygenius is proof that Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus aren’t just any old super group. This feels like a wholesome, genuine collaboration built on shared interests, tight friendships and a shared vision which blends all of their individual panaches into a remarkable piece of art. After a short tour there is no indication that they may ever record together again, making this record even more important and to be cherished.