Secret Meeting score: 84
by Joseph Purcell
In their solo endeavours, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers have thrilled and comforted in equal measure. They all uniquely capture the gut wrenching, emotional struggle of love, life and loss, and after producing three of the finest solo outputs of the last 18 months, they have come together to form a folk laden collaboration under the moniker, boygenius.
Often, supergroups and collaborations can spell disaster: the musical output suffering at the behest of ego and arrogance. Remarkably, boygenius have gracefully sidestepped these pitfalls- instead selflessly crafting a poignant traverse of beauty, which enhances, rather than shackles, the creative capacities of each member.
Bite the Hand opens with a dense tone that seemingly could be plucked from Dacus’ remarkable long play, Historian, as her guitar boasts its trademark fuzz and distortion. Stay Down, led powerfully by Baker, is a reminiscent snapshot of the voice that seduced so many on her 2017 album, Turn out the Lights. Whilst Souvenir finds the three alternating in verse, emitting the comfort of a record that seems ageless and familiar.
Lead single, Me & My Dog, is anchored by Bridgers spacious vocal, and it floats effortlessly into the shrouded echo of the chorus- Bridgers throughout discussing the changing nature of relationships, from early new love: ‘We had a great day… Then we got no sleep, Cause we were kissing’ to the cooling tone of resentment, self-doubt and tense arguments- ‘I never said I’d be all right, Just thought I could hold myself together, But I couldn’t breathe, I went outside, Don’t know why I thought it’d be any better, I’m fine now, it doesn’t matter’.
The EP draws to its conclusion with two remarkable tracks. Salt in the Wound is a collaborative masterpiece of empowerment. The three vocals dance effortlessly with each other as they brim with anger and disdain at the songs subject, who pressurises and manipulates, taking advantage of good nature and a disposition to please. It is a defiant expression of womanhood, which enhances the subtle messages expertly conveyed within. Ketchum, ID is the haunting bookend to this collaboration. A whimsical, gospel track backed by the hollow dry acoustic picks, as the apex of individual voices fall beautifully in sync, yet stand remarkably independent. Throughout, there is a genuine warmth to the EP, and it’s certainly one that leaves you yearning for more.