You don’t see it everyday that three songwriters who’ve garnered recognition in their own right decide to dive into a band together. It’s more often the opposite wherein bands with multiple singers and songwriters grow apart and head in different directions, but maybe that’s where the boygenius moniker comes in.
Given four days of studio time, the members of the band became each other’s yes men, convincing each other that all their ideas were good, and valid—you know, the way society tends to tell smart young men that their ideas are worth pursuing, in some cases leading to a lifetime of entitlement. Rather than being a three headed monster of headstrong, entitled men; boygenius are a group of women songwriters who probably naturally avoid dominating the conversation and find confidence in communal assurance rather than walk in the door already sporting it. Over the course of the six songs, three voices all flow in and out of the spotlight making for a perfectly balanced elision of the talents at hand.
The songwriting differences are key. Although all three generally get tossed into indie rock, Bridgers’ contemplative and snarky folk leanings don’t necessarily encompass the emo inflected primal yell of Baker, and Dacus is the most guitar-centric of the three. You can almost hear where a song turns from the initial idea of one of the songwriters and then gets ornamented by another presence at hand, or enveloped into some sort of group sound. “Salt in the Wound,” for example takes the slow burning rock form of a Dacus tune like “Pillar of Truth,” but when the guitars begin to roar, Baker’s signature belts help lift the tune into the stratosphere–the last moment of the song is the gleaming highlight of the work as both emboldened voices lean up to their respective high notes over the massive stew of guitar sound.
Single “Me and My Dog,” on the other hand is inline with the Bridgers brand of humor, longing for a simple life rather than one spent stewing over heartache: “just me and my dog and an impossible view.” Again the climax gets molded into something new with the assistance of Baker and Dacus, the two combining to create a supportive pillow for Bridgers’ cries.
Perhaps the through-line of this album, and the solo work of each artist, would be their lyrics. Yes they’re generally sad, but there’s always specificity in each of them. On her debut, Baker centered a song around “Appointments,” giving a clinical approach to escaping depressive tendencies; and Dacus talked about a “Night Shift” to avoid seeing an ex-partner. Bridgers’ most quotable line is probably “emotional motion sickness,” which showcases the visceral reactions some people can give us.
Here, the three arts continue coin terms and find nuanced ways to ground their emotional states. Whether it be the escapism that “Souvenir’s” can yield or the weird associations with the word “Home” that come with the young 20’s, the EP constantly offers ideas that are relatable, but also impossible to imagine anyone else executing the same way.
At six songs and 22 minutes, the EP calls for more; but it’s proof of the viability of the project. Boygenius could easily produce a couple phenomenal full-length projects and by the sounds of it they probably will.