This Week’s Model — boygenius, “$20”

When the first boygenius EP came out, in 2018, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus were all up-and-comers. Baker and Dacus has two solo albums to their credit, and Bridgers had one. Since then, they’ve only commanded more attention and earned more esteem, and Bridgers has shot to a whole other level of fame, in no small part because she’s tirelessly present on the music scene, barely letting a week pass without popping up somewhere. The first boygenius release was an enjoyable lark, albeit a devotedly sad one. The new boygenius release is an event.

There have been rumblings of new boygenius music for a little bit, and this week brought the thundercrack of its arrival. Befitting the shared prominence of its three members, the formal announcement of the band’s debut LP came with not one lead single, but a trio of them, each bearing distinctive fingerprints of the songwriter who first scratched it into being. “Emily I’m Sorry” clearly resides in the trailing aura of Bridgers’s breakthrough album, Punisher, and “True Blue” carries Dacus’s trademark rueful poignancy and shrewd storytelling. Those tracks could go on solo albums from the respective originators and feel just right.

“$20,” penned by Baker, feels the most like it needs — really needs — all three collaborators to come alive. From the sharp, tone-setting opening line “It’s a bad idea and I’m all about it,” the track crunches forward, the three vocalists moving around each other like actors in an ingeniously blocked Beckett play. It’s arrested in its invention and unpredictability, bearing some aural resemblance to the foundational indie rock of the nineteen-nineties (I swear I hear some Superchunk influence in there) while mainly standing as its own, one-of-a-kind convergence of stunning talent. One lyric intones “In another life, we were arsonists.” This cut sets its own blaze.

The Record, the first full-length from boygenius, is scheduled for release in late March.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s