New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: boygenius’ latest release “the rest” invites audiences on a spacial voyage

boygenius members Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker released an EP on Oct. 13.
Yeshni Savadatti
(Illustration by Yeshni Savadatti)

Marching around my all-girls Catholic high school and blasting “Me & My Dog” by boygenius through my headphones is a precious memory of mine. I was an angry 17-year-old student, using music to escape the reality of my parents’ divorce. On Friday, Oct. 13, the band ended the year by releasing a four-song EP titled “the rest.”

I first listened to a lot of mainstream rock bands, like Green Day and Mayday Parade, though I eventually realized their songs didn’t resonate with me in the way I desired. So, I began to gravitate towards female artists, who express their sadness, anger and true feelings with their work, artists like Fiona Apple, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey — the list goes on. Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, the epitome of queer indie-rock music and members of the band boygenius, definitely fall into this category as well. 

For the supergroup, 2023 has been an extremely eventful year. In March, boygenius released its debut studio album “the record,” debuting at No. 4 on Billboard 200. The band received a second-line billing in this year’s Coachella, to which Baker commented, “I’ve never played a festival when the sun was down.”

The band kicked off its tour in April, and the show has been a fresh taste of rock and roll full of ripped shirts, kissing and guitar riffs. And somehow, the three band members always found themselves on the floor of the stage. 

Many references to the band’s debut album are made throughout the new EP, creating a continuum between the two. The songs are reminiscent of the indie-folk, mellow sound of the band’s self-titled EP released in 2018. Each track is led by one vocalist, incorporating elements from each of their independent musical and lyrical styles. “the rest” serves as all the things left unsaid from their debut, as they take their last bow before their tour ends.

Returning to a story explored in a song on boygenius’ 2018 EP, Bridgers invites listeners to once again join her on a trip to the moon with the track “Voyager,” only this time it appears to be coming to an end. With mellow, heartfelt emotion, she introspects on her personal relationships. She reminisces on the good moments: “There are days spent tangled up together / And sometimes, you let me read your mind.” This is also a possible reference to “Cool About It” from the band’s debut album, on which she sings “And now I have to act like I can’t read your mind.” “Voyager” culminates with her walking alone in the city, feeling like a man on the moon. The last line “You took it from me, but I would’ve given it to you” takes the listeners back to her song “Moon Song,” “And if I could give you the moon / I would give you the moon.”  

In “Afraid of Heights,” Dacus brings in her own deep and lyrically-driven sound from her past albums, such as “Home Video.” She explores the feeling of wanting to live a rich and happy life, without it being dangerous — “I wanna live a vibrant life / But I wanna die a boring death.” The song is about her relationship with someone who accuses her of being a coward for not wanting to jump off a cliff. They shame her as a “crybaby” but in the end, it is revealed that the one living on the edge is the one with the most fear.

The first and last tracks are both led by Baker, bringing in her raspy vocals and chilling lyrics. “Black Hole,” also referenced in the band’s hit song “Not Strong Enough,” gives an end-of-the-world feeling with lyrics like “rainstorm,” “dark”  and “destroyin’.” She references the runaway black hole reported by NASA that was leaving behind a massive trail of stars — “You can see the stars, the ones / The headlines said this morning / We’re bein’ spat out by what we thought / Was just destroyin’ everything for good.” Through this, she is making the case that not everything associated with destruction is inherently bad, but also can be vehicles for creation and beauty. 

The last line of “Powers” — “the hum of our contact, the sound of our collisions” — is the perfect imagery for the way Bridgers’, Dacus’ and Baker’s voices blend together. This harmonious collision has been present since 2018. Their friendship is at the heart of their music, something that can be felt in the way their voices intertwine. 

I’m still trying to be cool about the fact I got to witness boygenius’ incredible performance at MGM Music Hall at Fenway in Boston. This was the first night of the band’s fall tour, where they announced the upcoming release of this EP and sang “Black Hole” live for the first time. The energy in MGM Music Hall was tangible, with everyone reciprocating the band’s emotion. boygenius even invited Hozier onto the stage, all of the performers belting the lines to “Salt in the Wound” as loud as they possibly could. All you could hear were screams of excitement from the audience.

It is safe to say that my teenage self, obsessed with being angry, was reborn that night.

Contact Diana C. Sánchez González at [email protected].

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