Mojo (UK)

Friends reunited

Supergroup prove they are definite article on debut album. By Victoria Segal.


Boygenius ★★★★ The Record POLYDOR/INTERSCOPE. CD/DL/LP

WHEN JULIEN Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus released their Boygenius EP in 2018, slyly posing as Crosby, Stills & Nash on the sleeve, it seemed like a one-off statement of companiona­ble solidarity, one unlikely to be repeated when – to use that oldfashion­ed showbusine­ss language they quickly make redundant – their individual stars were on the rise. Despite the successes of their three separate albums between 2020 and 2021 – Baker’s Little

Oblivions, Bridgers’ Punisher and Dacus’s Home

Video – they were drawn back together when Bridgers asked on their group-chat, “Can we be a band again?”

The Record is the welcome response to that question, a set of songs that stands as a show of collective strength without any diminishin­g of their distinctiv­e personalit­ies. It’s a remarkably graceful piece of work, free of moments where an ego clutches at your sleeve, or the wrong kind of creative tension spikes through. The opening a cappella Without You Without Them – a track that might have been recorded at a pre-War church social – pleads for unfettered intimacy, for immersive knowledge of another person. “I want to hear your stor y and be a part of it/Take your father before you/His mother before him,” they sing together, voices rising upwards. “Who would I be without you, without them?”

This idea of knowing and being known is central to The Record – how far can you let your true nature show before people turn away? You want to be seen, but how much is too much? “Once I took your medication to know what it’s like,” admits Bridgers on the three-pronged stadiumfol­k of Not Strong Enough, but the boundary issues don’t stop there. “Will you be an anarchist with me?” goads Baker on Satanist, its atypically horned riff all wisecracki­ng slacker swagger, “Sleep in cars and kill the bourgeoisi­e?/At least until you find out what a fake I am.” (For all the angst, Boygenius are funny, too; the confusingl­y Elliott Smith-like Leonard Cohen refers to not being “an old man having an existentia­l crisis at a Buddhist monastery/Writing horny poetry”.)

There’s no doubt there are three people operating here: on Revolution 0 or Emily I’m Sorry, you can hear how Bridgers shakes her songs up like an emotional snowglobe, letting the flurry settle back around her in new drifts and shapes; Baker’s more direct attack perfectly serves the raging $20. Dacus, meanwhile, tends to feel like she’s scattering pages from her diary while looking you directly in the eye, not least on the astonishin­g testament of We’re In Love, which seems to go beyond earthly love and into the eternal. Yet The Record is beautifull­y integrated, each song feeling like an ongoing conversati­on, a harmonious thread they can pick up any time. It’s ver y much worth getting to know it.

 ?? ?? For the record: Boygenius’s (from left) Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker show a collective strength.
For the record: Boygenius’s (from left) Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker show a collective strength.
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