Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers, three unique female artists, joined forces in 2018 for a collaborative project called boygenius. Both the name of the group’s first EP and the band itself, boygenius reunited for the record, released on Jan. 18. Although all three artists have been releasing music independently, the record is the band’s first collaboration since its eponymous first EP.
Released ahead of The Record, a full album the group will drop on March 31, the record is a collection of three songs: “$20,” “Emily I’m Sorry,” and “True Blue.” Dacus, Baker, and Bridgers are each featured on main vocals in one of these three songs, providing each of them the opportunity to showcase their individual and collaborative talents side by side. The two members of the trio that are not the main vocalist on a track sing backing vocals.
“$20” is Baker’s song of the three. The intro guitar at the very beginning of the song sounds similar to the opening of “Heroes” by David Bowie and gives the song a coming-of-age feel. While Baker, Dacus, and Bridgers all have very distinct voices, their vocals harmonize in a beautiful way.
“$20” feels edgy, but also is classically indie. The song has an overt restlessness that makes the listener feel like they want to be as wild as the narrator of the song.
“It’s a bad idea and I’m all about it,” Baker sings in the first line.
At the very end of the song, Bridgers releases primal screams, just like in her solo track “I Know the End.” These screams emphasize the restless feeling of the narrator and are a stark contrast to “Emily I’m Sorry,” the song in which Bridgers is featured.
On “Emily I’m Sorry,” Bridgers’ soft, whispery voice has an underlying strength to it, which parallels the feelings of covert optimism and perseverance that the song exudes.
This track recognizes a painful moment in a relationship, one in which the narrator realizes that she is not being good to her lover. Bridgers is full of insecurity and unsureness in this song. “Emily I’m Sorry” feels similar to much of Bridgers’ individual music, where she often grapples with her own fears and doubts in relationships and the ways in which those feelings can make her a bad partner.
“Emily, I’m sorry, I just (Emily, I) / Make it up as I go along / Yet, I can feel myself becoming (I can feel) / Someone only you could want,” Bridgers sings.
Just like the ebb and flow of Bridgers’ emotions and fears, the music in the background sounds like it is being paused and started again. It stops and goes, as do Dacus and Baker’s backing vocals.
The final song of the release is “True Blue,” in which Dacus takes the main vocals. “True Blue” is a love song over a full minute longer than the other two singles. It is not a pondering of the negative parts of a relationship like “Emily I’m Sorry,” but rather a celebration of true and good love.
The song moves softly like the opening of a flower. Though there is clearly motion and action, the music is not rushed at all.
In contrast to its theme of love and devotion, the opening chords of the song are reminiscent of “Teen Age Riot” by Sonic Youth. Rather than a riot, the narrator sweetly tells her lover of all the beautiful things that they are, despite their seeming inability to see them.
Dacus sings, “Your love is tried and true-blue,” combining the phrases “tried and true” and “true-blue.” Both of these qualities emphasize a person’s loyalty, demonstrating that time and time again, Dacus’ lover proves that they are loyal and their love is deep.
“$20,” “Emily I’m Sorry,” and “True Blue” are only a glimpse into what boygenius has coming, and everything Baker, Dacus, and Bridgers have to offer the music world.