approximately a year ago, phoebe bridgers, lucy dacus, and julien baker released an collaborative album entitled ‘boygenius.’
a few years ago, i discovered phoebe bridgers after hearing recommendations from conan gray and alice oseman (on ig). i listened to her debut album ‘Stranger in the Alps’ which had just been released, and i loved it. her sound is so spooky and sad, both of which are things i love in music. and that’s how i happened upon boygenius! i thought it was new music from phoebe alone at first.
when the album first released, i definitely listened to it, but i also felt very neutral about it. i didn’t know very much about julien baker or lucy dacus, and i was really only listening in support of phoebe. i was relatively new to the genre of indie folk. at the time, i was listening to more alternative music than anything else.
something changed for me in 2019.
i started to love the album more and more. and then this summer, it became my absolute favorite. i did a lot of reading about the band and its purpose, and i found the stories of how boygenius was formed to be so compelling, that’s probably why i love the band as much as i do. i think that boygenius also signifies a shift away from my music taste in the past two years.
a brief history of boygenius.
boygenius is a collaborative EP between phoebe bridgers, julien baker, and lucy dacus. it was a one time deal–presumably, there will be no boygenius 2. the EP released October 26, a week before it was originally planned to drop. for the EP, julien/phoebe/lucy recorded six songs in the three to four days they had in the studio in LA. they had never met each other in person before, but from what i’ve read, they kept in touch through email and text, exchanging lyrics and working together remotely. the band started off as a way to promote their respective 2018 tours, but eventually it grew into a larger project than expected and had its own tour.
boygenius is a statement that “women in indie rock” is not a trope or a trend. the band is all about promoting the power of women in music, but there’s nuance to boygenius’s message. more than a “girl group,” boygenius wants to be recognized as an equal to its male counterparts– to be known as just, a band. but regardless, the creation of boygenius was a feminist endeavor, and the album was produced by a crew of women alone. all three members of the band are super passionate in the area of social justice, and i can get behind that.. i love the message of boygenius.
i also love that boygenius is a representation of the fact that women can collaborate in a field like music and support each other. they don’t have to be in competition. i think the spirit of collaboration the band brings is what truly makes it so feminist.
all three members of the band are super passionate in the area of social justice, and i can get behind that.. i love the message of the band.
behind the name ‘boygenius’
Men are taught to be entitled to space and that their ideas should be heard because they’re great ideas and women are taught the opposite. That they should listen instead of speak and all that stuff. So a “boygenius” is someone who their whole life has been told that their ideas are genius. I also think genius is a weird, toxic word to use for anybody because it’s unattainable or it comes with, a lot of the time, abusive tendencies.Phoebe Bridgers for Vogue, A Brief Oral History of Boygenius
Bridgers has collaborated with Conor Oberst, the Bright Eyes front man, and she dated the indie-rock mainstay Ryan Adams, who is twenty years her senior. (In her most popular song, a wry kiss-off called “Motion Sickness,” she asks a former suitor, “Hey, why do you sing with an English accent? I guess it’s too late to change it now.”) Dacus has an all-male backup band, and Baker got her start as the front woman of a punk-leaning (and otherwise male) band called Forrister. The phrase was a way to needle their colleagues, and also to preëmptively deflate any self-seriousness regarding their work.The New Yorker, Boygenius Is Driven by the Spirit of Solidarity
phoebe bridgers, julien baker, and lucy dacus are all women in their early twenties producing music in the genre of indie folk/rock. they’re often grouped together as “women in indie,” despite being very different stylistically. as i see it, boygenius was about banding together to dispel this stereotype of women-musicians (however contradictory that might seem).
as carrie battan says in her article for The New Yorker, collaboration in the world of indie music is in the spirit of solidarity and support. there’s little commercial motive. and there’s no ego with the band as there sometimes is with male artists. the name “boygenius” is an ironic riff on men in the music industry who have the innate confidence that society has given them.
the songs on the album.
if you’ve never listened to the album, i’d recommend you listen to it once through to see if it’s something you might be into. idk if you’d like it if you aren’t into indie folk/rock.
what’s my favorite song?
i really can’t choose a favorite, so here’s my top three (or four??? lol literally that’s almost the whole album) on the EP:
- Bite the Hand
- Ketchum, ID
- Me & My Dog
right now, i’d say my favorite is Souvenir, but it changes every few weeks. that’s the special part of their music for me; i always discover a new lyric i love, and my favorite song changes with my mood.
recently, the lyrics in Ketchum, ID particularly resonate with me with all identity crises i’ve been having lately:
I am never anywhere
Anywhere I go
When I’m home, I’m never there
Long enough to knowKetchum, ID
to me, this song is about being grateful for the place or people you currently call home; you never know how long it’ll last, so you have to savor it then and keep yourself grounded. i know the song is really about touring and the experience of being on the road, but it just seems so applicable to my life right now. the emotional catharsis i receive from listening to that song,,,mmmm.
some of my favorite youtube videos featuring boygenius.
- HELLOOOO julien’s guitar solo during Salt in the Wound!!!
- phoebe’s scream during Me & my Dog!!!!
- lucy in Bite the Hand!!
- i love them all!
- hello i’d like to say just one thing: BOYGENIUS’S COVER OF COWBOY TAKE ME AWAY GIVES ME LIFE.
- beautiful beautiful beautiful
- MY FEELINGS. THEY HURT.
- this is truly one of my favorite covers i’ve ever heard. the harmonies, dude. the harmonies.
NPR’s All Songs Considered also has a great podcast episode about boygenius, in which the members of the band talk about their personal music taste and their experiences recording the album. you can find the podcast episode here. it’s one of my favorite things to listen to when i’m feeling anxious or nervous.
in conclusion, i love boygenius. it’s my favorite album of all time because it makes me feel safe and also seen. listening to the music of queer artists has always been comforting to me, and boygenius is no exception. boygenius has also given me two of my new favorite artists in lucy dacus and julien baker (and i love phoebe even more). i just feel so warm and fuzzy thinking about their music.
this post might seem quite random, but it was actually so fun for me to write because it was basically just me fangirling for two hours. i just needed some way to express how much this band means to me and how much i appreciate boygenius’s music.
lemme know in the comments if you have listened/plan to listen to boygenius and what you think!