“The Record”: Boygenius returns with an instant classic

Anna Esper, Website Editor-In-Chief

“Always an angel, never a god.” As I sat at the cold black table and listened to what would become my future favorite song for the first time, “Not Strong Enough,” I got chills. The words of Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers spoke to me. I felt seen. I feel seen every time I listen to one of the songs off “The Record.”  This is one of the many reasons that the supergroup Boygenius is revolutionary for not only indie music, but the music industry as a whole. 


On March 31, 2023, Boygenius released their long-awaited first full album. After the release of their EP in 2018, fans wanted more. After the long break, the indie artists got back together to create an emotional record that proves that friendship is more than sharing matching bracelets or pillow fights. 


As I walked through the doors of the record store that was playing the album three days early, I had no idea what I was walking into. No lyrics, no videos, just me, the 150 other listeners, and the band. As soon as I heard the first track, “With You Without Them” fill the store, my knees went weak.


 I walked out of that store changed. 


“The Record” is an experience. Just like every day we learn something new, Bridgers, Dacus, and Baker takes us through every stage of every relationship a human can have. 


“Cool About It” takes listeners through the experience of a relationship that you know won’t work but you stay in anyways, even though it drains everything out of you. In Bridgers verse she sings,  “Once, I took your medication to know what it’s like/And now I have to act like I can’t read your mind,” and “But we don’t have to talk about it/I can walk you home and practice method acting/I’ll pretend being with you doesn’t feel like drowning.” Bridgers beautifully tells the story of knowing someone so well, but not sharing your emotions with them to avoid change. To avoid hurting more. 


Additionally, another standout track is “$20,” primarily sung by Baker. This song is a perfect example of teenage angst, wanting to rebel against life and drive away. What makes this song so special is the round with Dacus and Bridgers that closes the song. As Bridgers screams “I know you have 20 dollars,” it’s a perfect song to speed down the highway, with the windows down, and head bang to as Baker shreds on her guitar. 


“The Record” shines in every category. The mix of instruments and production throughout the album tells a story, bringing you into the band’s heads. Lyrically, the three artists create space for the listener to reflect on their lives. 


The story isn’t a box that is just about them, it’s a full picture that paints every listener in it. 


The two songs that reflect this are “We’re In Love” and “Letter to an Old Poet.” Both have little instrumental, and focus on the heartbreaking, reflective lyrics of Dacus and Bridgers. 


In “We’re In Love” Dacus shares her love for the supergroup, and being connected to someone who may possibly lose feelings for her. As she sings, “Will you still love me if it turns out I’m insane,” Dacus makes a connection to the listener that can be easy to miss. Even though it’s a love song, Dacus perfectly demonstrates the fear of losing someone you love. Even if you haven’t been in love, you can understand her words. 


“Letter to an Old Poet” is similar. The ending track is heartbreaking. After my first listen to this song, I felt weak. All I wanted to do was cry. The artists created a connection throughout the album, like we know them. It hurts to listen to the lyrics of someone you feel you understand, who understands you. 


My favorite part of this song is the connection to the EP track “Me & My Dog.” Bridgers sings to the same melody as the ending verse of “Me & My Dog,” but changes the lyrics from “I want to be emaciated” to “I want to be happy.” The shift from the lyrics show that things do change. It won’t be dark forever. Ending the song with “I can’t feel it yet, but I am waiting,” shows true reflection. As we grow older, sadness changes and adapts. The transition of sadness matured with the band. We get to see them grow. 


The biggest standout track of the album is “Not Strong Enough.” Every time I listen to this song, I notice something different. The group takes listeners through the feeling of self hatred while thinking you are the best around. “I don’t know why I am the way I am” is repeated throughout the three choruses in the song. The feeling of hitting rock bottom but knowing that you are trying your hardest, thinking that you are better than everyone around you but still feeling alone. 


“Not Strong Enough” embodies growing up. Watching everyone around you and thinking “I’m not strong enough to be your man,” or “how can I support someone else when I can’t even get out of bed to put my clothes away.” Hitting the ground a thousand times just to think “I’m fine.” 


That is why “Not Strong Enough” is my favorite song on this entire planet. It was written for everyone. My life is in this song. 


My life is in “The Record.” Bridgers, Dacus, and Baker prove that friendship and emotions can work together. They can be healthy, if we let them. 


The world is going to be taken over by Boygenius, and we get to be a part of it.