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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Join boygenius on a journey through the stars with ‘the rest’

The supergroup’s latest EP serves as a beautiful continuation of their album “the record.”
The EP cover for “the rest” by boygenius. (Photo courtesy of Interscope Records)

In 2023 alone, boygenius brought us the gift to this Earth that is their debut album “the record” in the spring and a summer-long tour throughout North America and Europe. Still, the supergroup decided they weren’t quite done blessing our ears and our hearts with their music when they announced a brand-new EP releasing on Oct. 13, “the rest.” 

It’s fair to say that I was not the only one who completely lost my mind when I saw the Sept. 25 announcement on Instagram. I hadn’t been expecting new music in the same year as a successful debut album and tour, so I was overjoyed when I heard the news. Fans of boygenius are being fed well in 2023. 

Sophomore Spencer Bowden expressed similar excitement, calling the trio the “holy trinity.”

“The announcement was basically like Christmas coming early for me,” Bowden said.

This “holy trinity” is made up of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who all have their own successful solo careers. Still, these three indie superstars find the most fulfillment when they combine forces as a supergroup: boygenius. 

Bridgers proclaimed the group’s mission was  “sex, friends, rock ‘n’ roll,” in an Oct. 10 LA Times interview. They kept this mission at the forefront of their tour this summer, which made a stop in Nashville that featured the three performers dressing in drag at their Centennial Park show as a statement against the anti-drag laws passed in Tennessee. For fans, like sophomore Sadie Karr, who were lucky enough to attend, the tour was an amazing experience.

“Music is so life-giving for me, and their music is no exception,” Karr said. “Hearing ‘Stay Down’ and screaming along to ‘$20’ live were religious experiences.”

With boygenius’ music making such an impact already, “the rest” had a lot of hype to live up to. Just like every project preceding it, this EP has blown me away with its brilliance. Listeners have been invited on a stargazing and songwriting trip with the boys full of their innermost thoughts and feelings, and it would be ridiculous to say no to that experience.

The EP opens with the Baker-led track “Black Hole,” which made me immediately think of the opening lyric of “Not Strong Enough” from the previous album: “Black hole opened in the kitchen.” The rhythm of “Black Hole” starts off simple with Baker’s vocals shining through, singing about a stargazing experience that carries so much more weight than just the simple act of staring at the sky. As the instrumentals start to get more complex and the pace quickens, Bridgers and Dacus bring in a beautiful harmony to finish out the track. If this is what I’d find inside a black hole, I’m diving right in. 

“Afraid of Heights” features Dacus with her signature story-telling prowess. A common theme of this EP is a chaotic relationship between the narrator and the subject, and this song clearly highlights this. The subject is a risk-taker, but as the title suggests, Dacus is “Afraid of Heights” and not willing to make a jump. Baker and Bridgers provide excellent background vocals in the chorus that perfectly emphasize the emotions in the words. The lyric that hit me the most is when Dacus sings “I wanna live a vibrant life / but I wanna die a boring death.” They sing about finding joy in our lives, and self-destruction is no way to do that. 

I physically had to lie down on the floor after listening to “Voyager” for the first time. Anytime I hear Bridgers’ voice, I immediately get the feeling of every emotion at once and somehow, at the same time, the absence of all. “Voyager” combines a soft and simple melody with impactful lyrics that cut to your core. With Bridgers at the lead and Baker and Dacus providing gorgeous backing vocals that create the perfect ambiance, “Voyager” hit me like a truck — or should I say spacecraft, considering the inspiration for the title? Either way, I do not think that I will ever emotionally recover from this song, yet I’m queuing it up again as I write this, so maybe getting over it is overrated anyway. 

The EP concludes with a guitar intro into the last track, “Powers,” led by Baker questioning how she came to be, which can be seen as both a personal questioning and also more broadly applied to the story of how boygenius found each other and formed their incredible bond. The atmosphere of the song builds into the third verse, which features all three of our beloved boys harmonizing as the intensity heats up. They sing about “the force of [their] impact,” and they ought to know that the impact in this one song, let alone their entire discography, is huge. I was definitely not emotionally prepared for the outro to “Powers,” which features a slow yet meaningful melody of a group of horns. This immediately made me think of “I Know the End” from Bridgers’ sophomore album “Punisher,” and I found such joy in the fact that for just how chaotic that album’s ending is, “the rest” uses the same instruments to provide a sense of peace in its final moments. 

Each song on “the rest” flows into the next with flawless ease, providing a listening experience that takes you on a beautiful journey in only a short 12 minutes and six seconds. With these new tracks, new and long-time fans of boygenius at Vanderbilt can all find joy in their music amid the busy college student lifestyle. Junior Abby Manuel echoed these sentiments.

“They write songs about mental health, heartbreak and just the struggle in daily life, and I think that’s all pretty relatable as a young adult,” Manuel said. 

First-year Ivy Lin agreed, noting the reflection on new experiences in the EP. 

“With the adjustment to a new environment, college can bring about turbulent emotions,” Lin said. “I feel that boygenius’ music can be a place of solace in these situations. Even if you can’t relate to their lyrics per se, I think the raw emotion in their songs is something that everyone can resonate with.”

“the rest” is a perfect EP to contemplate where you are in life — whether it be floating around in the stars or simply just walking from one class to another while deep in your feelings. Either way, boygenius has produced another project that cuts deep to the heart.

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About the Contributor
Chloe Whalen
Chloe Whalen, Staff Writer
Chloe Whalen (‘27) is from Herscher, Ill., and is studying communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Deputy Life Editor. In her spare time, she enjoys running, listening to multiple genres of music and podcasts and doing jigsaw puzzles. She can be reached at [email protected].
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