Our culture talks about a boy genius, but girls (or women) don’t seem to get the same treatment. Women in music get treated differently simply because they are female. As Lucy Dacus notes, “I think it’s great that people are noticing that their favourite music right now is made by women, but I just wish it wasn’t a surprise.” Combining the talents of Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers, boygenius became a band thanks to a joint tour.
Taking the name boygenius, Dacus, Baker, and Bridgers mock the rock conventions that force categorisation and reductivisation of women. As an ensemble, their personal strengths as writers and singers coalesce to create something bigger than the individuals. Each woman brought a finished song to the party, along with an idea for another. Together they create a sound bigger, and bolder than they make on their own.
Lucy Dacus contributed ‘Bite The Hand’, yet the benefit of Julien Baker’s guitar is obvious in a song that opens gently, but takes on a rougher tone as the lyrics take hold, “Here’s the best part, distilled for you, but you want what I can’t give to you.” The song builds to a conclusion before stripping back to the just the trio’s voices singing, not accusing, simply stating the fact, “I can’t love you how you want me to.”
‘Me and My Dog’, a Bridgers contribution, starts off sweetly recounting a great day before descending into the death of a relationship, “I wanna be emaciated, I wanna hear one song without thinking of you.” That shift, as the guitars build, packs a gut punch of despair. The influence of Baker’s guitar runs throughout the record, but ‘Stay Down’ is one of those songs where the lines overflow with meaning, “I look at you and you look at a screen/ I’m in the backseat of my body.”
The six songs on this EP play to a different strength. Behind the harmonies there’s a power to the collective approach. The sweet harmonies provide an emotional counterpoint to bombast of fuzzed out guitars. It’s not all sweetness and light that comes through loud and clear.
The juxtapositions of this record, acoustic to electric, soft to loud, gentle to tough, offer a master class in how to create something that doesn’t just build on the strengths of the individual members but generates something new. Where this all goes remains to be seen, but for right now, this is more than enough, way more.