When Boygenius – composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus – released their debut album earlier this year, NME gushed that it was an “instant classic”. Released in March, ‘The Record’ saw the trio “elevate their songwriting by combining the best parts of their artistry” after years as solo artists, operating in the same musical orbit.
It was the kind of purple patch where you knew magic was in the air, the kind where every scrap of music – completed or otherwise – would be illuminating and important to the Boygenius canon. So arrives ‘The Rest’, a four-track EP that bookends a mammoth run of shows throughout the year, and a release well timed for Grammy consideration. The members each now stand on the precipice of continued success as a unit or as solo artists.
Ignore the flippant title, there’s material on ‘The Rest’ that could have fought hard for space on their debut album. When the band played a triumphant headline show at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden this past weekend, they performed the four songs that make up this EP in their entirety.
On ‘Black Hole’, one of the most expansive tracks in their catalogue, the melody remains the only constant amidst a cacophony of conflicting drums. Baker is feeling contemplative but also strangely at peace in the wilderness (“out here it gets so dark / You can see the stars for once”) while Dacus and Bridgers splice in sentimentality: “Sometimes, I need to hear your voice” they whisper at the conclusion. On ‘Afraid Of Heights’, Dacus muses on mortality with a reckless subject: “I wanna live a vibrant life / But I wanna die a boring death”, she sighs, adding that “not everybody gets the chance to live / A life that isn’t dangerous”.
‘Power’ has links to ‘The Record’’s penultimate song ‘Anti-Curse’. On the latter, what begins with a gentle strum builds with tension before chasing a showy sonic rush, but on ‘Power’, the band allows the song to implode on itself. After singing of the “tail of a comet burned up in an instant ” and the “light flashin’ before the eye of whatever comes after”, the trio pull back and cede space to horns that see the song home. Whatever comes after this era is still a mystery, but it’ll no doubt be equally compelling.
- Release date: October 13, 2023
- Record label: Interscope