Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker have long established themselves as powerful stand-alone musicians. Bridgers dreamy debut album ‘Stranger in the Alps’ is a piece of pure introspection, Dacus’ repertoire contains standout tracks such as ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore’ – a candid reflection on social observations, and Julien Baker’s ‘Turn Out the Lights’ is a masterpiece in raw self-discovery.
Their solo work is undoubtedly brilliant. But when they came together, they created something truly special: a classic piece of art in female expression. Boygenius, the six-tracked EP released late 2018, stands as one of the most well-put together collaborations of at least the last decade.
Exploring themes of lost love, disassociation, and loneliness, the EP feels utterly intimate, as if we, the listeners, have been let in on something private – something genuine and raw, not premeditated. This makes sense when we consider that it was written and recorded almost spontaneously in just four days at a studio in LA.
What Boygenius does perfectly is emphasize each of the women’s individual talents without reducing the collaborative nature of the project. Since each artist varies stylistically, they are all able to add something different to the collection. Bridgers voice is soft – almost haunting, Dacus brings a rich, clear cut sound, and Baker provides an emo-tinged gritty tone. It almost seems as if it shouldn’t work, but it does. By taking the time to highlight their individual strengths, as well as their ability to blend together, the group shows us exactly how collaborations should be done. The women are effective in communicating the idea that they aren’t just ‘women in indie’ as the media often categorizes them, they each bring something different – and the result is perfect.
The EP manages to achieve the rare feat of having tracks that are all stand-alone, yet still manage to complement each other; the album flows perfectly, yet all the songs are clearly distinguishable. This has the effect of making the album listenable, by which I mean that it never feels repetitive or monotonous.
Boygenius is a work of, well, genius. And whilst it’s sadly all too brief, it’s definitely something worth revisiting over and over again.
Stand-out tracks: All, but my personal favourites are Souvenir, Bite the Hand, and Ketchum, ID.