The Record, the first full-length release by supergroup Boygenius, is one of the year’s most celebrated releases so far. Boygenius is a collaboration between indie rockers Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, a trio who have written and performed together since 2018 when not nurturing their own successful solo careers.
I’m quite familiar with Bridgers, who is a favorite of my daughters, but the other two artists are new to me. This lovely, powerful album suggests I should spend some time getting to know them as well.
In lieu of an in-depth album review, I’m linking to the thoughts of Daniel Gallup, a young man with the distinction of being one of only two people to appear on Meet Me in Montauk as a commenter, a guest blogger, and a featured artist.
I will say that I like the way the three women’s styles complement each other. Though Bridgers is the most famous performer here, only a couple of these songs would fit neatly onto her solo albums. Instead, I can hear her style filtered through the sensibilities and sounds of her bandmates. I’m sure the same is true if you listen to this set through the lens of Dacus or Baker.
I also find it fascinating how these women both honor and take the piss out of legendary male artists. Bridgers has included pointed barbs about Eric Clapton and John Lennon in her solo work. The name Boygenius is a comment on how seemingly every male songwriter is told he’s a genius from birth.
The track ‘Leonard Cohen’ knocks the titular icon as “an old man having an existential crisis at a Buddhist monastery writing horny poetry” but also quotes his beloved line “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Cohen gets a writing credit on the song.
Today’s track, one of my favorites, doesn’t credit Paul Simon as a writer but he is mentioned in the album’s liner notes as the “inspiration” for the song. That’s because the melody in the verses bears more than a passing resemblance to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer.’
This battle between reverence and eye-rolling for storied male artists hits a climax in the bridge of one of the album’s best songs, ‘Not Strong Enough,’ when the trio repeats the line “Always an angel, never a God.”
The Record makes a strong case that Bridgers, Dacus, and Baker could eventually find themselves in the pantheon.
Met you at the dive bar to go shoot some pool
And make fun of the cowboys with the neck tattoos
Ask you easy questions about work and school
I’m trying to be cool about it
Feelin’ like an absolute fool about it
Wishin’ you were kind enough to be cruel about it
Tellin’ myself I can always do without it
Knowing that it probably isn’t true[Verse 2: Dacus]
I came prepared for absolution if you’d only ask
So I take some offense when you say, “No regrets”
I remember it’s impossible to pass your test
But I’m trying to forget about it
Feelin’ like I’m breaking a sweat about it
Wishin’ you would kindly get out of my head about it
Tеllin’ myself one day, I’ll forget about it
Knowing that it probably isn’t truе
[Verse 3: Bridgers]
Once, I took your medication to know what it’s like
And now I have to act like I can’t read your mind
I ask you how you’re doing and I let you lie
But we don’t have to talk about it
I can walk you home and practice method acting
I’ll pretend bein’ with you doesn’t feel like drowning
Tellin’ you it’s nice to see how good you’re doing
Even though we know it isn’t true
I’ve heard this song and maybe one or two others from the album. They are wonderful, and I look forward to hearing the rest – perhaps on our drive to Gainesville this weekend to attend our talented son Daniel’s graduation.
Daniel turned me on to this album which I absolutely love. Somehow I hadn’t thought specifically about their name, but I love your description of the balance they demonstrate between eye rolling and reverence. I’d say they have that same mix of feelings for themselves as artists, and that humility/cockiness leads to some amazing songs.
I loved this! Wonderful lyrics, voices, the whole package