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For the Record, Boygenius’ ‘The Record’ Is a Work of Art

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

If you know me, chances are you’ve heard me talk about Boygenius before. After hearing their self-titled EP for the first time, I became completely enamored with them and their music. Now, six years later, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus have released their first album, The Record. Here are my thoughts.

“Without You Without Them”

If you were to listen to the Boygenius EP and The Record back-to-back, it would almost sound like one started right where the other ended. Much like their EP’s closing track, “Ketchum, ID,” it’s stripped down and simple with a folksy, hymn-like feel. This song is a perfect opener because it immediately introduces one of the album’s main themes: friendship. The band members express gratitude for having met each other and gratitude to the generations that created them, saying, “Thank your father before you / His mother before him.” The song is acapella in beautiful three-part harmony, short, sweet and perfectly nostalgic. It’s about appreciating your history, sharing your story, and questioning what you would be like without the influence of those who love you.


In almost a complete juxtaposition to the last song, The Record’s first single “$20” starts with a bang of bold bass lines and pop-punk guitar riffs. It’s full of self-destructive tendencies and reckless adventures, motorcycles and all-night drives to Reno. It feels almost youthful and compulsive in the best way, like dreaming of running away as a child on a quest for danger. The song ends with their harried, overlapping voices, crescendo-ing into screams before an abrupt finish.

“Emily I’m Sorry”

“Emily I’m Sorry” is the first song written for The Record, and the second single that was released. It features an interesting production that distorts from low guitar strumming to something more programmed and psychedelic. Sung mainly by Bridgers, the vocals are light and breathy, and the song feels like it comes from the same realm as her album Punisher. It’s about realizing that you haven’t treated your partner as they deserve and asking for their forgiveness. Phoebe says it best when she sings, “I’m twenty-seven and I don’t know who I am / But I know what I want.”

“True Blue”

To know and be known is one of the most personal things in the world. In The Record’s third single “True Blue,” Dacus takes us back to the themes of her album Home Video, exploring topics like trust, growing up and finding yourself. Coupled with its steady beats and introspective lyricism, this song is an ode to a longtime love: someone that knows you better than you know yourself. The defining lyrics for this song are the ones at the very end: “I remember who I am when I’m with you / Your love is tough, your love is tried and true-blue.” To be ‘true-blue’ is to be extremely loyal and unwavering in your commitment. Lucy is singing about a love that has stood the test of time, about two people that have become themselves with each other. These people have moved and fought and grown up together and loved each other the whole time. 

“Cool About It”

“Cool About It” is a soft, almost intimate song. Accompanied by just an acoustic guitar and a banjo, it feels like Boygenius is sitting right in front of you instead of playing through your headphones. The song is folksy, nostalgic and melancholy, but beautiful nonetheless. It is inspired by folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel and their song “The Boxer.” It’s about running into an ex and trying to be friendly while also trying to forget the pain of the breakup: “Tellin’ you it’s nice to see how good you’re doing / Even though we know it isn’t true.”

“Not Strong Enough”

“Not Strong Enough” is The Record’s fourth and final single. It’s also, arguably, one of the best songs on the album. It starts with a hard-strummed acoustic guitar that is quickly accompanied by a mixture of instruments and technological production. The song centers around a relationship in which one person feels like they aren’t enough for the other: “Not strong enough to be your man / I lied, I am, just lowering your expectations.” Its title and chorus are both inspired by Sheryl Crow’s song “Strong Enough,” and almost feel like a response to the question she’s asking. The whole song is good, but by far, the best part is the end. The beat grows strong and steady and Dacus’ begins to repeat the phrase, “Always an angel, never a god.” As her bandmates join her in harmony, the music begins to pick up before exploding into something big and loud that evokes a feeling of elation in the listener. Lucy’s whole verse at the end of the song is absolutely incredible. Her voice is so rich and smooth, and this song allows her to use it in ways we don’t normally get to hear.

“Revolution 0”

The first time I listened to The Record, I closed my eyes and tried to visualize each song as I heard it. When I listened to “Revolution 0,” the first thing I thought of when I heard the background notes was warm, shimmery, rippling pools of water, almost like the realm of the forest spirit in the movie Princess Mononoke. The song is mainly sung by Bridgers, and much like “Emily I’m Sorry,” it carries some of that floaty, otherworldly production that makes up Punisher. Her voice is high and sweet as she sings about kicking her teeth in and wanting to die. While this song is one of the more understated ones, it’s still immaculate with an ending that fades from soft vocalizations and crescendos into a swooping string instrumental.

“Leonard Cohen”

“Leonard Cohen” is a short, sweet, acoustic song written by Dacus. The lyrics were inspired by a car ride she took with her bandmates to Los Angeles. During the drive, Bridgers asked them to listen to a song that she loved and became so absorbed that she missed their exit and added an hour to their commute. Later in the song, she quotes Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem,” essentially saying that without the bad, there can be no good and that she loves her friends despite their flaws. She ends the song with another touching remark regarding her bandmates: “I never thought you’d happen to me.”


“Satanist,” like “$20,” feels very pop-punk, with an electric backbeat that seems like something you could bang your head to. About ¾ of the way through the song, there’s an instrumental section that’s peppered with screams and shouts before an abrupt tonal shift. The rest of the song has a slow and heavy beat mixed with sweet harmonies, turning the sound into something akin to being dragged through a pot of honey. The song examines the strength of friendship, with each bandmate asking in their own way if their friends would stand by them if they changed, even if they did so drastically.

“we’re in love”

“We’re In Love” is a ballad that Dacus wrote as a tribute to her bandmates. It acknowledges the risks of being vulnerable and allowing someone to see all of you and love you despite it. As Lucy sings this song, you can hear the love and tenderness in her voice as she softly asks, “If you rewrite your life, may I still play a part?”


Julien Baker wrote “Anti-Curse” after almost drowning while swimming in a too-high tide. After the experience, she said she felt a strange sense of calm, singing about, “Makin’ peace with my inevitable death.” When thinking of her loved ones, she sang, “I guess I did alright considering / Tried to be a halfway decent friend.” She’s accompanied by a guitar riff that, strangely enough, reminded me of the beginning of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” with its steady, pulse-like beat.

“Letter To An Old Poet”

“Letter To An Old Poet” is arguably the most heart-wrenching song on the entire album. It starts right where “Anti-Curse” left off, with one song flowing into the next. The music itself is softer and more understated, leaving room for the listener to focus on the story Bridgers is telling. She sings about the pain of a past relationship, one where she was mistreated and underappreciated. As the song continues, she is backed up by her bandmates and seems to realize that her pain is both meaningful and temporary. Her confidence seems to grow as they sing “You don’t get to tell me to calm down / You make me feel like an equal / But I’m better than you.” At the climax of the song, she sings “I wanna be happy” in a direct callback to the song “Me And My Dog” from Boygenius’ first EP where she sings “I wanna be emaciated.” The entire last verse of the song is inspired by “Me And My Dog,” but rather than being gut-wrenching, it’s hopeful. It’s a tribute to growing, moving on and taking your power back, making it an incredible finish to the album.

Boygenius’ The Record is 42 minutes and 18 seconds of breathtaking emotion, singing and songwriting. It’s a testament to the intimacy of friendship and the importance of appreciating the relationships in our lives.

To my friends, I love you. And I sincerely apologize. I’ll be talking about this for a while.

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Hannah Grinbank is a junior at FSU double majoring in English (Editing, Writing, and Media) and Communications with a minor in Psychology. She is absolutely thrilled to be HCFSU's Head Culture Editor! When she's not editing, you can find her reading, going on a hot girl walk, or listening to David Bowie albums on repeat. She hopes to one day own a cat named after legendary music icon Cher. :)