When Lucy Dacus sings about “gettin’ pissed about humidity” on the brand-new boygenius single “True Blue,” I can’t help but nod in agreement. Who among us here in Northeast Florida wouldn’t relate? It’s one of dozens of spot-on lines on Dacus’s latest release with collaborators Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers: the album, simply titled the record, will be released in full on March 31. Three singles from the album dropped January 18, and thank goodness they did.
Just like we heard on their 2018 self-titled EP, the new boygenius tracks certainly deliver on sweeping (and, at times, dueling) vocal arrangements. But on the first of the three new singles, titled “$20,” the three collaborators let loose. The sound is harder, crunchier, their voices more feral, a fair match with lyrics like, “It’s a bad idea and I’m all about it.”
How unfortunately rare it is to see three women in the male-driven music industry given the opportunity to not only collaborate, but to share their victories with one another.
Lyrically, these three songwriters encourage close listening. In “Emily I’m Sorry” and “True Blue,” I find myself hung on every word, using the clue these lyricists provide to attempt to deduce what kinds of relationships they’re singing about. Romance? Friendship? Sisterhood? The compelling thing about boygenius, though, is that the relationships depicted could be any of these, or none of these. Within this supergroup, songs lamenting break-ups or celebrating love don’t only always pertain to romance. Instead, Baker, Bridgers and Dacus are writing songs together that pass the Bechdel Test.
The lyrics of these three singles give a sensation I often feel when I read a novel or short story, mediums in which a technique that writers call in medias res (Latin for “into the middle of things”) is often utilized. When a scene begins in medias res, the reader (or, in this case, the listener) is dropped into the middle of the action, forced to get their bearings by piecing together the most minute details. When I listen to “Emily I’m Sorry,” my mind goes searching for the story when Bridgers sings, “Just take me back to Montreal / I’ll get a real job, you’ll go back to school.” I relish the more active role I get to play as listener by not letting a single line go unnoticed.
I find myself in awe of the women of boygenius, and not only because of the merit of their music. How unfortunately rare it is to see three women in the male-driven music industry given the opportunity to not only collaborate, but to share their victories with one another. Take, for instance, Bridgers’s 2021 duet with Taylor Swift, “Nothing New.” In the streaming universe, Swift fans likely followed the song back to Bridgers’s albums, which led them to boygenius, which led them to both Baker and Dacus’s solo music. These are three artists secure enough in both their work and their friendships with one another to share their own spotlight, knowing there is more than enough light available to illuminate each of them.
Stream the new boygenius singles.