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The boys are back in town

the rest – boygenius review
Charlie Greenwaldt
football legend is also genius

Six months after the release of their debut album aptly titled the record, boygenius is back with an EP full of new material. The four track EP, released on October 13. the rest is in an interesting spot due to its close ties with the supergroup’s first release, their self-titled EP, which came out in October 2018. Sonically, the two are sisters, both having a greater focus on mellower melodies and atmosphere to bring more attention to the lyrical gut-punches each song delivers. the record has those songs (specifically “We’re In Love”, “Cool About It”, and “Letter To An Old Poet”, the latter literally having the same melody, just slower, with lyrics echoing that of “Me & My Dog” off of the self-titled EP.), but they’re mixed in with hi-fi production and drums, giving off an upbeat vibe like “Not Strong Enough” or “Satanist”. 


The EP starts off with the track “Black Hole”, opening with a mellow keyboard loop and eventually adding drums to the instrumental. “Black Hole” discusses how forces we thought to be previously destructive could be just as creative: “You can see the stars, the ones/ The headlines said this morning/ Were bein’ spat out by what we thought/ Was just destroyin’ everything for good.” This line references newer findings from the Hubble Space Telescope that a runaway black hole could be creating new stars. “Black Hole” could be interpreted as a metaphor for domestic uncertainty, things not being what they seem, she’s starting to have to cover up how she might feel with fake smiles, her mind or feelings about it becoming a blur. Maybe it’s the end of this relationship, maybe it’s the start of something new, either way, it’s become a black hole, with the ability to destroy, as well as create. 


The next track, “Afraid of Heights” is a personal favorite of mine on the album. It appeals to the wants that many want, a universal desire for security and safety: “Not everybody gets the chance to live a life that isn’t dangerous.” Lucy Dacus is known for her lyricism and it truly shines here, in a tale about feeling like you’re a coward for wanting to feel safe, secure. “Afraid of Heights” uses a guitar and some lighter synths in the background, a lighter melody but with those gutting lyrics.


This song speaks of two people: The risk-taker and the one who wants to play it safe (which listeners can assume is Dacus herself), but not wanting her life to be boring, saying “I wanna live a vibrant life, but I wanna die a boring death.” The song touches on anti-capitalist themes as well, with the lyrics “’Cause one man’s dream is another man’s death”/ I remember when you told me that/ Didn’t know what to say, so/ I just laughed/ But now I know it’s not funny.” It talks about how the dreams of these ultra-rich millionaires and billionaires are built off the exploitation of the working class, and these feelings are coming from the “risk-taker” character, how they’ve “never liked a townhouse” and how “If they ever catch you at it/ I know you’d want me to be proud/ That you took a rich man’s dream/ And brought it with you on your way down.” Throughout the song the risk-taker shows anger towards the upper-class and toward the state of the world in general, doing riskier things and making fun of Dacus for wanting to play it safer, wanting to live well but die in a way that seems boring to them. 


Toward the end of the song Dacus reveals that despite the risk-taker mocking her, calling her a crybaby, it turns out that they get emotional a lot as well, “But you’re the one who got teary/ Tellin’ me what you believe/ How we’re stuck in entropy.” 


The risk-taker’s view of the world is bitter, and rightfully so, but it’s taking a sharper turn downwards, Dacus commenting “How it hurts to hope/ Oh, it hurts to hope for more/ Oh, it hurts to hope the future/ Will be better than before.” It’s scary to wish that the world will or even can become a better place, it’s so much easier to become bitter, to feel hopeless than hopeful, but there are things worth living for, like Dacus wanting to live that vibrant life, dying of old age.


The penultimate track on the EP is “Voyager”, keeping up with the theme of space felt throughout not only boygenius’s work, but also Phoebe Bridgers’s work in general. “Voyager” is complemented by fingerpicking on guitar with haunting humming from Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker in the opening as well as the background of the song.


The song is named after Voyager-1, the song even referencing a famous photo it took in 1990, “Pale Blue Dot”. This song, like “Afraid of Heights”, focuses on a complex relationship between two individuals. Bridgers’s point of view in this song feels almost insecure, with lines like “And I don’t mean to make it all about me,” and “And sometimes, you let me read your mind.” Bridgers takes it further, mentioning concerning behavior from her partner, “Then there are nights you say you don’t remember/ When you stepped on the gas and you asked if I’m ready to die,” and “You thought I’d never leave and I let you believe you were right.” She also mentions feeling alone and isolated, writing “But I never imagined a dot quite as pale or as blue.” 


The final line of the song is almost a call-back to Bridgers’s “Moon Song”, saying “You took it from me, but I would’ve given it to you,” echoing “And if I could give you the moon, I would give you the moon.” “Voyager” focuses on a relationship quickly turned toxic, how Bridgers is left grappling with how it ended. 


The final song on the rest is “Powers”. It’s different from the rest of, well, the rest. This one isn’t about a romantic relationship or friendship, but instead an origin story. Julien Baker uses comic book stereotypes to try to explain where she got her “Powers”, which I consider either her songwriting prowess or her career in general. “How did it start? Did I fall into a nuclear reactor?/ Crawl out with acid skin or somethin’ worse/ A hostile alien ambassador?/ Or am I simply another of the universe’s failed experiments?” The song goes on to describe what boygenius as a group is all about: this life is fleeting, and it’s worth living to see these fleeting moments of beauty. The final lyrics of “Powers” capture this perfectly: “Life flashin’ before the eye of whatever comes after/ The force of our impact, the fission/ The hum of our contact, the sound of our collisions.” Boygenius as a trio know their impact on their fans, and being labeled as “sad girl” music may not help get their message across, but they are aware that what they have is special, and they’re asking us to look before it’s gone. 


boygenius, like witnessing a comet, is a once in a lifetime occurrence. Their status as a supergroup is already a rarity in itself. Their discussions of mental health, love, longing, and self realization are songs that have defined my teenagehood. This EP feels like a goodbye, especially with the final lines and horns of “Powers”, and in a way it makes me feel like I’m saying goodbye to my elementary, middle, and high school self. I’m a senior now, and although it isn’t June yet, I feel as if the rest is the perfect goodbye to the last few years of my life. I hope this isn’t the end for boygenius, I’ll always take more with open arms, but if it is, it’s been one hell of a ride. 


Favorite Track: “Afraid of Heights”


Favorite Lyric: “The tail of a comet burned up in an instant, the destruction of matter/ There’s no object to be seen in the supercollider/ Just a light in the tunnel and whatever gets scattered.” from “Powers”


Final Rating:  9.5/10


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About the Contributors
Max Kersteter
Max Kersteter, Staff Writer
Max is a staff writer for The Navigator and a senior at Southwest who loves the holy trifecta: movies, music, and writing. When not writing (or even sometimes while writing), you can find them with their airpods in. You want music recommendations? Max has them, don’t be afraid to ask.
Charlie Greenwaldt
Charlie Greenwaldt, Staff Writer
Charlie is a freshman at Southwest High School and something about him is that he really likes soccer and plays on the Southwest team. When he is not playing or practicing soccer he likes to either draw or do something with friends. They usually go somewhere on our bikes since they can't drive yet--biking to places like Stillwater and St Paul and exploring the cities. This year he worked at the state fair at the Nordic Waffle booth and learned that it is not very fun to work. Something that he wants to achieve while at Southwest is to get a 4.0 or something close to that.

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