Seven months after the trio released their debut album, we have been blessed by another four tracks from boygenius, an EP aptly titled The Rest. Released on Friday the 13th of October, the announcement for the arrival was made across their social media channels less than a month ago! The Record is one of the standout releases of the indie scene in 2023, so naturally expectations for this were high, and their dedicated fan base will not be disappointed with this. Here are some highlights…
An intimate moment with Phoebe
Accompanied by a sweet nostalgic lyric video of stills from the band’s touring this year, ‘Voyager’ is all about the incredible depth of our precious relationships. Phoebe stewards this one, with her wispy vocal performance we all know and love. The track opens with soft humming as Julien and Lucy harmonise gorgeously together and continue to support Phoebe throughout the duration of the song. A lone guitar features some gentle finger plucking, which complements Phoebe’s tender singing. What is most insightful about the track are the lyrics, giving this vulnerable performance even more weight. One of the top lines include “There are days spent tangled up together / And sometimes you let me read your mind”, which paints this beautiful image of unparalleled bonding and deep connection. Or it’s the harrowing line; “And there are nights, you say you don’t remember / When you stepped on the gas and asked me if I’m ready to die”, which hangs heavy, giving the listener a sense for how complicated this relationship was. An intimate listen indeed, and one that has left us all feeling a little emotional.
A separate process
Given the name of this EP, you would be forgiven for thinking that this material was left over from the recording sessions which produced The Record, however the band has revealed in an interview that although these songs had an origin around the time of developing The Record, they never intended those songs to be a part of the debut LP, and so were completed during May of this year. Dacus explained that the songs were worked on in separate until they ‘felt right’ and were ready for release. The studio recording process was optimised, as the band have learnt more about the best communication style that suits them. The results can be heard in all tracks as the three artists appear to be finding and honing their sound in such a naturally collaborative way, it’s as if you can feel their friendship burgeoning evermore. It somehow feels tighter and more synergistic than ever, their connection to each other is incredibly strong and that is reflected in the music.
Debuting tracks on tour
Lucky concert goers, who attended select shows, might have been privy to debut live performances of these songs before the studio recordings were released. When the band announced the imminent arrival of the EP, there was a recording of ‘Black Hole’ live in Boston, floating around the internet. The band generally enjoyed the teasing and exclusive content, only revealing titles of the tracks progressively leading up to the release. It seemed like an intentional act to reveal the name of the opening track first, which plays on a resurgent symbol from one of the top singles off The Record, ‘Not Strong Enough’. The song is quite a satisfying listen for this fact, that audiences can get a deeper glimpse into the existential sentiment from a song that has become a fan favourite and did the rounds pretty heartily on TikTok.
A continuation of the ultimate collaboration principle
It seems on this EP that Julien, Lucy, and Phoebe stick to their intention of sharing the spotlight. There are equal amounts of airtime for each person cumulatively across the tracks, as they have mastered discerning appropriate contributions based on ranges, timbre, and stylistic flares akin to each individual. Although, Julien Baker in particular, has some noteworthy moments. These instances hold more weight knowing that she recently opened up during a live performance about her confidence and finding her voice again, all thanks to Lucy and Phoebe’s support throughout this whole endeavour. Julien opens ‘Black Hole’ overtop a keyboard which resonates out into the ether. Similarly, her relatively isolated vocals on ‘Powers’ really gives her room to express. Inclusions of Julien’s deep breath before beginning on this track makes the listening experience all the more authentic. ‘Afraid of Heights’ is heralded by Lucy, and her broody tone, gives the second track a more triumphant sound. Not to mention Lucy swooning in on the second half of ‘Black Hole’, which can’t be missed either, it gives the song the body to envelope the listener as it draws out to this unresolved finish, but then bleeds into the second track nicely.
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A cosmic theme
Throughout The Rest we get references to space, showcasing Bridgers’ influence and obsession with metaphors about the moon. But it’s much deeper than the satisfying moment where Phoebe sings on ‘Voyager’; “Walking alone in the city / Makes me feel like a man on the moon”. The EP is bookended with cosmic sentiment; opening with ‘Black Hole’, which speaks for itself and rounds off with track four, ‘Powers’. The closer is a spiritual moment, reflecting a message of universal serendipity and a marvelling at the incomprehensible possibility of existing in the first place. And on a more grounded level, the song symbolises their celebration of individuality, imperfections, and unconditional love for each other in this boundless friendship.
Overall, boygenius have managed to evoke more of the feels, an endearing listen with their hallmark poetic lyricism and tone that can’t really be matched. As we get more from this band, it feels we get more exclusive access to these creatives and their minds in such a way that it feels interpersonal between the artists and us dedicated fans. Stream The Rest on all major platforms now or support the band by purchasing the 10” vinyl pressing here.