Hannah Keziah Agustin is a writer from Manila, the Philippines. She is based in Madison, Wis.

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Boygenius’ Debut Album Is a Searing Ode to Friendship

by Hannah Keziah Agustin 07-10-2023
‘the record’ is a transgressive album reminding us to love our friends because they are our perennial home.
From left to right, musicians Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker are dressed in black and cast in the warm glow. They stand in a cascading line next to one another, staring off beyond the left side of the photo with waves in the background.

boygenius / Chuff Media

AT THE CLOSE of the music video for “$20,” all three bandmates of boygenius — the young indie band turned chart-topping supergroup —  cut their palms and swear a blood oath to each other. As I watched it for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel drawn toward prayer — is this what love looks like? It is subversive to hold on to the tenderness of friendships in a world rife with violence. But boygenius, consisting of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, refuses to do anything less in their debut full-length album the record — a searing homage to their love for each other. It is nothing short of divine.

Ringing with angst and affection, these songs meld post-grunge guitar riffs with heartfelt existential threads. In “Satanist,” they respond to ruminations in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Everything is meaningless,” by singing, “If nothing can be known, then stupidity is holy.” By embracing the finitude and vapor of our existence, they, like the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, “[make] peace with [their] inevitable death” (from the song “Anti-Curse”).

Yet, amid all the nihilism, there’s joy. Boygenius’ gushing piano ballad “Letter to an Old Poet” nods to Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, in which the Austrian writer and mystic offers this instruction: “Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance.” Boygenius finds this love in friendship.