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The Indiana Daily Student

arts music review

Boygenius delivers soulful narratives in their newest EP ‘the rest’

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Indie-folk supergroup boygenius released their EP, “the rest,” on Friday. Band members Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus said the EP is a companion project to their debut album, “the record,” which was released March 31. 

As the title suggests, “the rest,” serves as the remains from the previous album released only seven months ago.  

“These songs don’t belong on ‘the record,’” Bridgers said in an interview with Apple Music 1. “But they make so much sense together.” 

While the band trio thrives as a group, Baker, Bridgers and Dacus each have successful solo careers as well. Rooted in the indie rock scene, each artist delivers soul-stirring ballads reflecting themes of vulnerability and internal conflict.  

The group began when Baker and Dacus formed a book club via email, where they sent each other reading recommendations and discussed their experiences as young artists. Then, Baker introduced Bridgers to the book club. The three bonded over their love of reading and music, creating a profound artistic synergy. 

Despite their individual music already being intertwined within the same indie-folk playlists, their souls connected. This camaraderie, combined with their musical prowess, inevitably led to the formation of their band, boygenius, in 2018. 

Their self-titled EP, which debuted in October of 2018, marked the beginning of their journey and made waves among indie music lovers. In the nearly five years between the release of “boygenius” and “the record,” the band gained a cult-following and serious acclaim, both individually and as a group. Following the much-anticipated release of their complete album, fans now get an extra taste of boygenius with “the rest.” 

The first track on the EP is “Black Hole.” Baker’s raspy vocals open as a consistent beat plays to back her voice. She references the runaway black hole reported by NASA, which created thousands of stars, rather than destroying them. On their previous album, Baker also sang of a black hole in the song “Not Strong Enough,” where it represented turmoil. Yet on “the rest,” the astronomical phenomena symbolizes a maker of life. As the song progresses, there is an instrumental interlude followed by Bridgers and Dacus to finish the song, singing short and simple lyrics in unison.  

During their tour, boygenius premiered “Black Hole” at Boston’s MGM Music Hall in September, the first time they’d performed any of “the rest.” On night two in Boston, they performed “Afraid of Heights.” 

In “Afraid of Heights,” Dacus’s emotive voice takes centerstage, narrating the story of a friend’s daredevil spirit, juxtaposed against her own preference for safety over thrill. Expressing a sense of guilt for her more reserved nature, she remains resolute in her decision not to change herself for that person. Her feelings are captured with lyrics like, “I wanna live a vibrant life / But I wanna die a boring death.” 

Bridgers delivers an intimate performance in “Voyager.” Her soft vocals and melancholic reflections on her romantic relationship are reminiscent of songs from her sophomore solo album “Punisher.” Dacus and Baker harmonize hums while a guitar is gently picked along the melodies.  

The final track of the EP is “Powers.” An acoustic guitar opens the song, only to cut out, as Baker takes a deep breath. Baker sings, and the guitar returns, continuing the same chord pattern. Once again, celestial themes are present throughout the song, with lyrics containing images of space and technology while Baker grapples with the mysteries of her own existence.  

In the last verse, Bridgers and Dacus join Baker, as the trio sings “The force of our impact, the fission / The hum of our contact, the sound of our collisions,” as a reference to the band’s seemingly fated foundation.   

While “the rest,” is comprised of only four tracks, the EP stands as a testament to boygenius’s endless talents. Each artist is able to showcase their style and prowess, while simultaneously uplifting one another. They support each other not only in their musical journey but also in life itself. 

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