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The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Boygenius’ new EP “rests” well with listeners

Photo courtesy of Apple Music
Boygenius’ new EP, titled “the rest” was released on October 13, 2023, eight months after their successful album “the record.”

Haunting lyrics and symphonic melodies. Reverberating choruses and eerie harmonies. On their newest four-track EP, “the rest,” released on Oct. 13th, Boygenius supersedes genre and structure, continuing to revolutionize the role of female-run groups. The trio comprises Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, each of whom are critically acclaimed singer-songwriters of their own merit. Together, Boygenius creates a serene atmosphere of oxymorons: bittersweet, blissfully melancholic.

Following the wild success of “the record” released in March 2023 and the subsequent tour, new music was unexpected from the trio. As a result, many fans initially had diminished expectations from the release, doubt fueled by the implication that the released songs are cast-offs from “the record.” However, in true Boygenius form, the separate release speaks less to the supposed lack of quality and volumes about its unique message of cohesion.

The first track on the EP, “Black Hole,” is the perfect representation of the distinctive dynamic that Boygenius navigates. Some songs are balanced between the three voices; others are dominated by one singer. “Black Hole,” in establishing the space and astronomical motif, relies on filled-out, almost ethereal harmonies and instrumentation. The track navigates the necessity of destruction for growth. Dacus and Baker dominate the melody, while Phoebe Bridgers takes the backseat, a recurring pattern in this EP.

Bridgers, whose 10+ million monthly Spotify listeners are over triple both Dacus and Baker’s streams combined, has a devout and active fanbase. This fanbase has contributed to Boygenius’ success but also caused speculation about the trio’s success without Bridgers. With the fluctuating focus on vocals in “the rest,” Boygenius squashes this claim, instead showcasing each vocalist’s unique styles and lyricism.

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In “Afraid of Heights,” Dacus leads, further developing themes of destruction, but in a more specific, focused context. In the outro, the group sings “How we’re stuck in entropy, how it hurts to hope.” Entropy, a scientific concept that underscores uncertainty, adds dimension to this line. It exemplifies the sharp, descriptive lyrics that Boy Genius is known for. Bittersweetness colors this track, emphasizing that though one is inclined to hope, it can often prove to be a self-inflicted form of destruction.

Boygenius starts “Voyager” with eerie siren-like vocals before gentle arpeggios accompany Bridgers’ verse. With a slightly more on-the-nose title, the song alludes to the space motif. The lyrics are tangential in relation, advancing the plot atmospherically but retaining detachment, which further contributes to the dissociative theme of the song and EP overall. Each pause and every break between the verses is suspenseful and mournful, as the Boygenius members each describe letdowns. Whether from exploitation or circumstances beyond one’s control, Boygenius explains that sorrow has intrinsic beauty because of its universality.

The final track, “Powers,” concludes the album with gentle indie-folk harmonies in signature Julien Baker style. The echoing, reverberating harmonies and repetitive guitar strumming end the release hypnotically. It stands as the most complex song, as it combines the fragmented themes of “Afraid of Heights” and “Voyager” into a cohesive story, almost a thesis, established in “Black Hole. The song’s title is least related to the space theme, instead focusing on the inhibition represented by space in a positive, liberating manner. Baker sings of not having heard “the tale of how [she] got [her] powers.” She desires to have an exposition, a basis for understanding, for approaching her circumstances with empathy.

Boygenius’ “the rest” is an EP about destruction, exploration, and ultimately revitalization. It is a compelling narrative that invites reflection and curiosity. Following “the record” and their recent tour, it stands as a surprising release. It establishes an inherent fluidity representing the group’s dynamics, identities and ambitions. The content of “the rest” though brief, is a succinct, comfortable indicator of Boygenius’ trajectory and promising future as a trio.

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About the Contributor
Ananya Pandit
Ananya Pandit, Arts Editor
Ananya Pandit is a senior and is the Arts Editor for The Observer. This is her third year on staff. When she’s not writing, she loves to discover new music and learn new songs on her guitar. Her favorite artists are Phoebe Bridgers, Elliott Smith, and Adrianne Lenker. Ananya loves to bake sweet treats for her friends and family, and go on long drives.

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