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Boygenius: The Badass Supergroup We've All Been Waiting For

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 Written by Helen Payne

Photo: Lera Pentelute

Earlier this summer, three like-minded indie-rock musicians began teasing their fans. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus were pictured together, draped moodily on a sofa. Looking suspiciously like the sleeve image from Crosby, Stills and Nash’s self-titled bow, the word ‘Boygenius’ ran below them, as well as that all-important stamp of approval from Matador Records. Speculation bubbled. Rumours were whispered.

Then, there was music.

Bridgers, Baker and Dacus are at similar points in their career. All three have released critically acclaimed albums in the last 12 months, and they’re busy selling out shows of similar sizes. They also share an affinity in terms of the lyrical themes they cover with gentle grace, humour and beautiful vocals: break-ups, heartache, death, mental health, loneliness, self-deprecation and more.

Female-driven, guitar-heavy indie-rock is having a moment in the shape of American, 20-something melancholic sensitivity and acute self-awareness. It’s a scene that everybody wants to be a part of. Just look around you: Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Big Thief and so many more share an orbit with Baker, Bridgers and Dacus. They embody the spirit of punk and emo through grumbling guitars and bubbling angst, but their music is finely-tuned into something more delicate.

But they’re not really tied to any one style, as their first songs as Boygenius prove. They’re not really tied to anything, in fact, and that’s what makes their collaboration so exciting. The three worked together by each introducing one song and one idea to the mix to represent their individual spirit. They then worked on these sketches together, crafting a sound that’s both fresh and familiar.

A self-titled EP is due for release on November 9, and so far we’ve heard three of its six tracks. Each member of the band takes the lead on one song, while the remaining two provide backing vocals to some rich choruses. Could there be a more gorgeous way of doing things? Unlikely.

Bite The Hand is Dacus’s contribution and serves as an opener for entire shebang. We already know (and love) her voice, from its casual, yet composed debut back in 2016 on ‘No Burden’, and more recently on the power-packed ‘Historian’, which has already solidified a spot on many Album of the Year lists. The warmth and comfort instilled in her voice is front and centre here, but she’s soon joined by Bridgers and Baker for some soft three-part harmonies. “I can’t love you how you want me to,” they sing, building up until being dismantled again. Just like Dacus, Bite The Hand has a gentle side but it really hits its stride as a full-band number.

Me And My Dog, Bridgers’ offering, discusses the pure bliss that comes with new love: having a wonderful day together, kissing through the night and not getting any sleep. Her debut ‘Stranger In The Alps’ was 2017’s class-leading folk-rock triumph, and married celestial, haunting vocals with songs that were sad and, frankly, a little messed up. The record signified her as one of those artists who just has it.

Each song breathed life into a moment of Bridgers’ past - singing at a funeral, choosing to drown during a game of Would You Rather, or the deadly perils of trying to love. In the same vein, Me And My Dog is tender and vulnerable, yet still that little bit twisted. She sings: “I wanna be emaciated. I wanna hear one song without thinking of you.” Her established aesthetic is right there, but some of the oomph behind Dacus’s full band recordings and the power of Baker’s voice shines through too. They’ve got her back.

The early stages of Stay Down suggest that it could feature on any of the three musicians’ recent albums, but Baker takes the lead. As we know from her solo work, she has a massive voice. She reaches highs with such power you think your headphones are about to pop, but is equally capable of transforming fragile, quiet moments into something that sticks with you. Here, the song’s peaks and troughs ache with a heart-wrenching blend of euphoria.

Is Boygenius a match made in heaven? You bet. But what will the second half of the EP entail? Judging from what we’ve heard so far, it’ll combine the softness of Bridgers, the warmth of Dacus and the strength of Baker, all wrapped up in the overlapping themes they excel at verbalising. In terms of a live performance, so far only a North American tour has been announced - described as a co-headliner from Bridgers and Baker, with Dacus as the support act. But there will be some form of live collaboration at the end, right? Please?

Looking further ahead, if this trio mirrors the career of Crosby, Stills and Nash - who will be their Neil Young? They’ve got a heap of names to choose from. Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan might look like the first port of call, what with an equally acclaimed debut making strides across the indie landscape, but then Soccer Mommy’s ‘Clean’ lands her firmly in the category of cool, too, and her track Your Dog even hints at an already established link.

The lesser known, but equally touching Common Holly would also make a perfect addition to the mix, and Brigitte Naggar exemplifies the angst of being a mid-20s woman in America at the moment particularly well.  Boygenius better get those auditions started. The competition will be fierce, yet forbearing. Just like them.

'Boygenius' is out on November 9 through Matador

Lucy Dacus Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Sun November 04 2018 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Ryman Auditorium (USA)
Tue November 06 2018 - BROOKLYN New York - Brooklyn Steel (USA)
Wed November 07 2018 - BROOKLYN New York - Brooklyn Steel (USA)
Thu November 08 2018 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Orpheum Theatre (USA)
Sat November 10 2018 - TORONTO Ontario - Danforth Music Hall (Canada)
Sun November 11 2018 - DETROIT Michigan - Majestic Theatre (USA)
Mon November 12 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - Thalia Hall (USA)
Tue November 13 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - Thalia Hall (USA)
Thu November 15 2018 - ST LOUIS Missouri - Pageant (USA)
Fri November 16 2018 - MADISON Wisconsin - Sylvee (USA)
Sat November 17 2018 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - First Avenue (USA)
Mon November 19 2018 - DENVER Colorado - Ogden Theatre (USA)
Tue November 20 2018 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Depot (USA)
Fri November 23 2018 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Commodore Ballroom (Canada)
Sat November 24 2018 - SEATTLE Washington - Moore Theatre (USA)
Sun November 25 2018 - PORTLAND Oregon - Crystal Ballroom (USA)
Tue November 27 2018 - OAKLAND California - Fox Theater (USA)
Thu November 29 2018 - SAN DIEGO California - Observatory North Park (USA)
Fri November 30 2018 - LOS ANGELES California - Wiltern (USA)

Click here to compare & buy Lucy Dacus Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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