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Sad And Queer: A Review of Boygenius’ Album 'The Record' | Review

By Elena Melis

Rating: 5/5

Content warning: This article mentions eating disorders and mental illness

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

From indie rock/alternative trio Boygenius comes their debut album The Record, released on 31 March 2023. The band is made up of Phoebe Bridgers (28), Julien Baker (27), and Lucy Dacus (27) and was formed in 2018, the same year they released their self-titled EP. The singers initially bonded over the still all-too-common misogyny present in the music, especially within the rock genre. The name Boygenius is based on an inside joke about the archetype of the tortured male genius— an archetype from which women are commonly excluded. The Boygenius singers are known and loved for their sad, queer music wrapped up in beautiful and thoughtful lyricism. The album was announced in January, along with the release of three singles entitled ‘$20’, ‘Emily, I’m Sorry’, and ‘True Blue’. Unsurprisingly, The Record was highly anticipated by fans and has gained acclaim since its release. In April, the group performed at the Coachella Music festival and is scheduled to have more live appearances this year.

While I genuinely enjoy all of the songs on this album, my favourites are ‘Emily, I’m Sorry’, ‘Cool About It’, and ‘Not Strong Enough’. ‘Emily, I’m Sorry’ was released as a single in January and I have been playing it on repeat since then. With beautiful melodies, the song mourns a past love while reflecting on and apologising for mistakes that ultimately sunk the relationship. Fans believe this song was written about Emily Bannon, whom Phoebe Bridgers was supposedly in a relationship with from 2018 to 2019. ‘Cool About It’ has a mellow but catchy tune and Boygenius’ signature hard-hitting lyrics. They sing about having to masquerade one’s true feelings in a problematic relationship. ‘Not Strong Enough’ has some more rock elements and stronger instrumentals, but is just as lyrically compelling. The song touches on feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. This anxiety is especially noticeable during the bridge, which repeats the line ‘Always an angel, never a god’ over ten times, which is reminiscent of repetitive, anxious thoughts.

Perhaps the most notable thing about this album is its lyrical parallels between the bridges of ‘Letter To An Old Poet’ and ‘Me & My Dog’, a song from the previous Boygenius EP. In ‘Me & My Dog’, the trio sings ‘I wanna be emaciated / I wanna hear one song without thinking of you / I wish I was on a spaceship / Just me and my dog and an impossible view’. In ‘Letter To An Old Poet’, however, the lines are changed to ‘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 remember my dog when I see the full moon’. Fans were quick to discover these references to their older music. I find ‘Letter To An Old Poet’ much more impactful after realising this connection. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past, the change from ‘I wanna be emaciated’ to ‘I wanna be happy’ is gut-wrenchingly meaningful. I love Boygenius’ clever way of incorporating their past lyrics to make new music both enriching and relatable to fans.

All in all, this is an amazing album that I would happily recommend to anyone who likes sad, queer indie music. I love the artwork and theming, and I 100% consider this a no-skip album. I also recently purchased the orange vinyl that even includes a temporary tattoo resembling the matching tooth tattoos each member of Boygenius got together, which I thought was a sweet addition. Sonically, as well as lyrically, this is definitely one of my favourite albums of all time.


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