black background with black and white image of the 3 singers in the band boygenius

Boygenius: Boygenius Album Review

By Lea Mercado
Web Content Contributor

Matador Records has become one of the biggest record labels in indie music. Although it seems counterintuitive for a record label to dominate a genre born out of independent production, Matador has managed to produce new music from the artists on a massive scale without sacrificing the feeling of intimacy between the listener and the artist.

One of the label’s largest productions of 2018 was the self-titled album, Boygenius. The EP comprised of folk indie sensations Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. 

Released in October, Boygenius had already secured an appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and racked up raving reviews by November.

At the end of the year, the album secured its spot on Esquire’s Top 20 Albums of 2018 and NPR’s highly sought-after Top 50 Albums of 2018, ranking at #13.

But what makes this EP so special? Why would a band that seems to have appeared out of thin air be able to secure such rankings so late in the year?

All three artists had already attained a major following before the release of Boygenius. Julien Baker took off with the release of “Turn Out the Lights” back in 2017 pulling in reviews and interviews from major publications such as the New York Times. 

Phoebe Bridgers’ “Stranger in the Alps” gained high reviews by Pitchfork and since then, Pitchfork has been closely watching her work.

Lucy Dacus, much like Phoebe Bridgers, released her critically acclaimed album “Historian” months before the Boygenius EP and maintained an audience since that release.

“Bite the hand” starts the album off with a low, gloomy tone. Dacus sings of the familiar struggle of maintaining one’s identity or choosing to lose it within a partnership. 

 “Salt in the Wound” is an electric, gritty heartbreak song that maintains the theme of loss of identity from a relationship gone bad.

“Stay Down,” tells the story of coping with that loss of self. The unique thing about this album is the storytelling. The band manages to effectively tell a story regardless of the order the album is listened to. 

As the listener progresses through the songs, the tone of the album changes. Gentle acoustics and cohesive harmonies begin to evolve into hymns, “Ketchum ID” is a prime example of this.

Despite lacking religion in the lyrics, the listening experience is religious, nonetheless.

Writers and musicians have flocked to Boygenius because of the poetic undertones of lyrics, and the haunting beauty of the band’s dark folk musicianship. Not only do the artists work beautifully together to merge their styles, but none of their styles get lost within the combination. 

Baker’s emo alternative tones complement the exhausting poetic struggles of self-awareness and harsh realities of Dacus’ and Bridgers’ songwriting.

Essentially Boygenius offers what seems to be a curated playlist for anyone looking to go on a late-night drive or a chilly evening walk.

My top three song suggestions from the album:

  1. “Stay Down”
  2. “Ketchum ID”
  3. “Me & My Dog”

Featured image via Boygenius album cover.

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