By Grace Hamilton, Staff Writer
The boys are back in town, and they’re better than ever.
The second album from boygenius, — the supergroup comprised of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus — simply titled the record, is a dazzling comeback. The three showcase their impeccable writing capabilities through songs ranging from mournful apologies to screamed demands for money.
This project is a love letter from the three women to each other, beginning with the first song, “Without You Without Them.” Led by Dacus, the song establishes the album as a monument to the respect that the three musicians have for one another. “Who would I be without you?” Dacus asks, backed by Bridgers and Baker.
The real question is: Who would I be without boygenius?
After the song concludes, we are given whiplash in the best way possible with “$20,” one of my personal favorites. This is where it becomes clear that the influence of each artist is present and used throughout the entire album, as Baker’s heavier, grungier rock sound strongly comes through, while still cultivating a central theme and feeling.
Baker told Rolling Stone that the song is about the “wanting-to-poke-the-bear impulse that I’m trying to mitigate… It started to remind me of the tension between unrest and discontent with your life individually and the world writ large as a child.”
Also, if Phoebe Bridgers screamed at me to give her $20, I would happily comply.
But overall, this album truly is, in a word, tender. “If you rewrite your life, can I still play a part?” Dacus asks on “We’re in Love.”
“I just wanna know who broke your nose / figure out where they live / so I can kick their teeth in,” Bridgers confesses in “Revolution 0.” In “Anti-Curse,” Baker croons, “Was anyone ever so young?”
Tender. It is the love letter of all love letters.
And don’t you dare call it sad. Dacus responded to a question from Rolling Stone about her, Baker and Bridgers being defined as “sad girls.”
“I just want me and my friends to survive,” she said.
“When you internalize it, your personality is sadness, which is a lot of the time tied to depression, which a lot of the time is tied to detachment from life… And it’s not true. Shut up. I try to write more nuanced things than that,” she continued.
Their music may have melancholy notes and chords, but this album proves that boygenius is so much more than sad girls. They are three friends who found each other amidst all the noise, and who understand one another — that kind of understanding that only comes when you feel that you’re able to see someone’s soul and love it despite the baggage that may come with it.
The record hits expectations out of the park and straight into the faces of anyone who dares to reduce boygenius to “sad girls.” They aren’t one-trick ponies here to make girls cry to their soulful music about heartbreak and long-lost childhoods.
I mean, they do that, too. But they also do a lot more.
The record is about relationships where you make a person so much more than they are and the disappointment that follows when that’s revealed. It’s about discontent and dissatisfaction. It’s about the things we wish we could talk about with the people we love and resigning ourselves to accepting the lies they, and we, tell.
It’s also about the love you have for your friends and the amazing gift that is. It’s about wanting to heal and move on from the things and the people that hurt you.
To close the album, Bridgers, Baker and Dacus sing together on “Letter to an Old Poet,” familiar to fans of “Me & My Dog,” from boygenius’ first album. Together, they say, “I wanna be happy / I’m ready to walk into my room without lookin’ for you / I’ll go up to the top of our building / and think of my dog when I see a full moon.”
These three know exactly what they’re doing to us, and I, for one, am not complaining.