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Boygenius' 'The Rest' - EP: A Review

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Boygenius' 'The Rest' - EP: A Review

I should probably begin this review with a handy little summary for the uninitiated. Boygenius (noun): Indie Supergroup comprised of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker respectively. As corporate as it sounds, Supergroup is undoubtedly the term for the trio; each have had huge successes individually, and yet this amalgamation of their individual talents and ever-solid “friendship” has begun to catch up to their combined solo efforts.

Boygenius fans have already been blessed with a superb initial self-titled EP, which was, in hindsight, foreshadowing for the sheer perfection (in my humble, non-biased-in-any-way opinion) of their following album: the record. Then, following on from the skyrocketing success of the record, came the announcement for a subsequent EP – The Rest – to be released on Friday the 13th of October, a very rapid successor given the 5-year gap between the band’s first two works. But when the day came, I found myself in two minds about the EP. Since then, upon relistening, I’ve come to appreciate the profound successes of The Rest, despite my initial (still relevant) misgivings. So, here’s why I eventually grew to like The Rest, and why you should give it a listen.

The Rest opens with ‘Black Hole’, a track I’m rather mixed about. Lyrically, it’s fantastic; almost songwriting in two halves. Baker’s opening half is a complex intertwining of rhythm and words, before the song shifts gear into a subtle Dacus-led crescendo of sorts. The latter half is more simplistic, both melodically and lyrically, which really works for the build. My only qualms about black hole are aimed at said build. Boygenius are no strangers to a good build, it’s something they employ brilliantly in the original EP, and yet the end of black hole feels like it could be so much grander, the drums could be bigger, they could really just go for it.

Then we move onto ‘Afraid of Heights’, which is arguably the strongest song of the four. It’s Dacus-lead, and complete with her signature lyricism: cutting and heartfelt storytelling. Verses complete with rhythmic guitars lead into soaring choruses with beautiful strings. What really makes this song great is the end refrain, another subtle build, but one that undoubtedly works; it’s in the Goldilocks Zone of crescendos, anything more would outweigh Dacus’ poignant final lines, a lament to the fundamentally human feeling that is hope.

Third up is ‘Voyager’, which is, in my opinion, musically strongest. Shifts in the intervals between chord changes let the song roll towards the chorus like a sequence of waves on a shore. Perfect vocal harmonies from Baker and Dacus complement Bridgers doing what she does best, a return to her signature softer vocal style. Lyrically the song is, again, fantastic (are you sensing a pattern here). Voyager continues an ongoing theme in The Rest of cosmic imagery. This is thanks to a poetic reference to the iconic ‘Pale blue dot’ picture taken by the Voyager probe, which also gives the song its name.

Finally, there is ‘Powers’, which is the song I’m the most mixed about. It’s another fantastic lyrical concoction from Julian Baker, who can harness syllables with experience beyond her years, it seems. It’s very stripped back, which isn’t a problem, and there’s a real sincerity to it (largely thanks to Baker’s unscripted sigh of relief after completing the opening guitar riff). However, I think that Powers suffers from the same problem as Black Hole, a sort of lack of direction, as if they’re building towards something but they’re unsure what that endpoint is. When I listen to Powers, I’m waiting for some drums, any drums, any drums at all to kick the song into new and powerful territories. But no, the song dies down towards the three-minute mark, and we’re left with sombre brass to play us out. It does work, but again, I was left wanting more from it, unfortunately.

I want to conclude by saying that, despite my criticisms, I really do love The Rest, and I think it’s fantastic that the boys have put something like this out so soon after finishing The Record. It’s a testament to their commitment to making music, to their fans, and to each other. Sure, it has its drawbacks, but that’s through the narrow scope of comparison to their incredible previous work. Overall, The Rest is good, well-made music, complete with the hallmarks of the boys’ collaborative styles that we’ve become so familiar with. So I urge you, please, listen To The Rest.

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