The February issue of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine announced on its cover the imminent departure of the boygenius first lp recreating an iconic cover starring Nirvana in 1994. The image of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus Dressed in suits and ties just like Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic did on that occasion, she was accompanied by one of those headlines that set the bar for expectations so high that it ends up being more ballast than promotion: “boygenius. The supergroup we need”.
That boygenius is a supergroup in the classical sense that acquired the term in the 1970s is beyond doubt. Bridgers, Baker and Dacus are separately three of the most outstanding singer-songwriters that the indie rock scene has produced in the last decade. Whether it is a necessary project is already more debatable (what group is today?), but that should not cloud the assessment that their first full-length joint work deserves after having debuted five years ago with a much more modest EP in intentions and results. Because ‘The record’ is a splendid album.
It has been so since it started with ‘Without you without them’, a beautiful ode to friendship performed a cappella in which the twinning of the three voices seems to announce that this is truly a pooling and not the mere juxtaposition of three well-defined artistic personalities. Interestingly, the three songs that follow –’$20′, ‘Emily I’m sorry’ and ‘True blue’- partly contradict that impression, since they represent the characteristic styles of each of its authors (Baker’s ’90s guitar, Bridgers’ mournful and autobiographical ballad and Dacus’s immediate pop-folk, respectively) with specific contributions from the other two.
But it is from here where things get more interesting (and more collective), with the arrival of ‘Cool about it’an acoustic delight that updates the postulates of Simon & Garfunkel, and ‘Not strong enough‘, a catchy sample of country-powerpop that, despite its title (‘Not Loud Enough’), is certainly among the most rewarding of the lot.
The chemistry is maintained in songs like the guitarist ‘Satanist’ (which could pass for the rescue of an old 1993 recording), the moving ballad We’re in love’ and the intriguing ‘Leonard Cohen’, which, more than a tribute to the venerable Canadian singer-songwriter who died in 2016, turns out to be a poignant reflection on problematic masculinities: “I am not an old man having an existential crisis / in a Buddhist monastery while I write horny poetry & rdquor ;.
No, boygenius is not a hobby. This is a real group. And of the good ones. Rafael Tapounet
Other albums of the week
‘Requiem for jazz’
Angel Bat David
In 1959, the film ‘The cry of jazz’ asked uncomfortable and urgent questions about racism and identity in the usa. The Chicago Artist Angel Bat David -clarinetist, producer, thinker and a thousand other things- picks up the conversation with a record as poignant as the film that inspires it. Structured as a suite in which voices, strings and electronics merge, part concert, part studio experiment, her requiem is a lament that little by little becomes a cry of hope. A major jolt. Jazz? That is the least. Roger Rock
You don’t need it, you shouldn’t look for it either, but Yung Beef reminds each job that his talent does not fade or diminish despite the passing of the years. He often changes his path, but he stays straight and ‘Ganster Paradise’, a six-song EP, is one of those works where he claims that he is still a street hero, a protagonist in the gangster’s paradise. Six songs for him to beat the trap hard, with various ‘samples’ placed with care, which serve as a nod, one of them, remarkable and coherent, to Lana del Rey. Ignasi Fortuny