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Boygenius – The Record Review

Powerful supergroup intentions lay the foundation of the first Boygenius LP release, The Record. From the echoed and homely intimacies of the opening track Without You Without Them to the final, touching crescendo, friendship and an ear for the highs of each independent artist are heard. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus come together under the Boygenius moniker for their first full-length release but have spent years maintaining an indie-rock standard, independently and together. The Record is a culmination of fine chemistry, and articulate and expressive indie beats that this trio have crafted once before. But here, The Record, is a full taste of how impressive Boygenius are when on the same page. 

Triple EP bill $20, Emily I’m Sorry and True Blue push forward and are nicely polished pieces that make the overlapping style, the indie-rock readiness, certain. $20 still has that suddenness to it, that urgency to cry out for change and loss, while True Blue swings through with the presumed, moody tones of the listener. “Fuck around and find out,” is an essential and contemporary message, planted right there amid swaying and articulate instrumentals. Flittering between those heavy tones and mellow essentialism gives a nice range. As the percussion cracks a steady beat, the leaky faucets and repetition of battered feelings are constantly gutting and moving. Beyond those EP tracks are stripped-back acoustic tales of cowboys on Cool About It, with that colloquial twist and banjo flicker giving a calmer sense to an album that explodes thereafter. 

Not Strong Enough marks that volatile move, inching closer and closer to the best songs on The Record. Doubled up with Revolution 0 is a stunning moment that marks the very best of the group. Risk is always around the corner too, with the apt little tribute Leonard Cohen depicting a tale of worry and how we judge those that listen and loathe our favourite artists. Little cracks are provided, and what could have been a song bordering on novel becomes a wholesome essential that depicts the need some have to replicate their idols. As short as it is, Leonard Cohen leaves a wonderful mark, a break before the towering, electric guitar-led Master. Heavy guitar workings, the tone shifting toward electric, harsher material, The Record bounces back and forth between tear-jerker sentimentality on We’re In Love and Letter To An Old Poet and consistent instrumental grace with Satanist. 

Baker, Bridgers and Dacus surf a rightful, deserved wave of well-considered, thematically certain tracks. Each piece understands a need for instrumental flair or touching and welcoming lyrical depictions. Chamber-like beauties that are more than open to letting the strings and percussion wash over them, as it does toward the end of the wonderfully worked Revolution 0. But for every string section is a powerful blast from Satanist. The trio may find themselves riffing on the anxieties and pressures of the every day, their reflections and experience an important part of their music, but these twelve tracks are delivered with intense confidence. Playlist essentials are formed by an honesty that is integral and known to returning listeners, and relatable to newcomers. The Record is a titan-like creation. Just plain brilliant. Confident, assured and open. It captures the very best of each member and bottles it up, generous in its release and powerful in its execution.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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