Arts, Music

Boygenius’ New EP ‘the rest’ Gives The Band a Style Distinctly Its Own


What many fans thought would be a one-off project has turned into a phenomenon. 

Boygenius, a band formed in 2018 by indie artists Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, is back with its third EP, the rest, composed of four tracks

After releasing its first self-titled EP in 2018, the band went on hiatus while each of the members developed their own successful solo careers. 

Boygenius was little more than a collaborative project between the three. But after a successful fall tour—including two sold-out shows in Boston—and a few surprise appearances at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, the band is anything but a project.

Its EP, the rest, released Oct. 13, proves that the three artists work as more than just collaborators. Their musical styles and voices are seamlessly combined, making the rest the band’s most cohesive and distinct release. The lyrics are soulful and paired with sparse instrumentals that make for a chilling but emotionally impactful lineup of songs about love and trust.

Fans got an early glimpse of the first track, “Black Hole,” at boygenius’ MGM Music Hall show last month. It features all three artists’ voices, encompassing the full vocal power of the band, and is a strong start to the EP. Baker sings about staring up at the night sky over a soft and strange buildup of electronic beats that feel almost alien. 

“In a rainstorm / Suckin’ down a dart on the back porch / Out here, it gets so dark / You can see the stars, the ones / The headlines said this morning / Were bein’ spat out by what we thought / Was just destroyin’ everything for good,” she begins. 

The lyrics are disjointed—but not in a bad way. In the second half of the song, Dacus and Bridgers sing in harmony, perfectly expressing the conflict that comes with loving something, or someone, that keeps disappearing and reentering your life.

“My thoughts, all noise, fake smile, decoys / Sometimes, I need to hear your voice,” the song ends, right before the last electronic drums fade out.

The second track, “Afraid of Heights,” features a softer acoustic sound. This stripped-back, gentle guitar instrumental is what characterized much of Bridgers’ early solo career. This track focuses heavily on Dacus’ voice, however, tying in the best of both.

The song’s lyrics are similar to the first track, creating a bittersweet narrative about being pushed too far and losing trust.

“I never rode a motorcycle / I never smoked a cigarette / I wanna live a vibrant life / but I wanna die a boring death,” Dacus sings.

Stereotypical indie music can sometimes feel like it romanticizes fast-paced, adrenaline-rush moments in our lives. The EP and this track in particular, perfectly express the vulnerability and uncertainty accompanying those moments. Boygenius artfully says what most of us are too afraid to admit, part of what makes them so relatable.

The third song, “Voyager,” opens again with a soft acoustic guitar melody. Bridgers’ voice is centered, but the other two are heard humming in the background throughout nearly the whole song. Their voices become the instrumental backing, creating an otherworldly effect. 

Its lyrics feel like a continuation of the previous song’s narrative, breaking away from the control and recklessness of a past relationship. 

“When you stepped on the gas and you asked if I’m ready to die / You thought I’d never leave and I let you believe you were right,” Bridgers sings. 

The final song, “Powers,” completes the album, focusing on Baker’s voice. It is almost twice as long as the other three tracks, most of that length made up by an ambitious instrumental outro. Horns and acoustic guitar play out the track, which is introspective and eerie. It feels like we are “careening along / on a crooked little trajectory” through space right along with Baker, who uses this song to question what her purpose is.

Although short, the rest, forms the most cohesive and satisfying narrative boygenius has crafted since its formation. The continuity of both message and musical style shows that it is truly coming into its own as a band. Although each song has a clear lead singer, the style is all their own, not identifiable as belonging to any one solo artist. The EP is a clear signal of a long, and even more successful, road ahead for boygenius.

Update: (Oct. 18, 2023 11:30 a.m.): An unedited version of this story was previously posted in error.

October 15, 2023