Generally, I’d identify as a millennial. I’m a cusper at 96, but I remember using Windows 98 and playing Nintendo 64 so I really can’t relate to zoomers who have never torrented anything. I say this to sort of also disassociate myself from the millennial zeitgeist that has swept up indie music through the past decade; a relentlessly sincere and trite brand of art that is typified by boygenius. All the “confessional” songwriting that has been bubbling up since my freshman year of college has culminated in the record, an album that may as well have been designed in a lab to describe the ur-millennial.
To connect strongly with boygenius you’d have to situate the lyrics in your own emotional state. They’re what Dan DiPiero calls a “Big Feelings” band, queer female-led rock that apes liberally from 90s indie and isn’t shy about it. The problem is, these lyrics are straight ass. “You say you're a winter bitch / But summer's in your blood”, I mean Jesus Christ. It’s the same problem I have with Taylor Swift, dressing up facile poetry as this poignant storytelling, only boygenius might be worse because they profess to be huge literature nerds. You’re telling me you were inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke and Joan Didion? This is borderline Rupi Kaur!
Bad lyrics can be saved by good music, but this does not happen here. There’s a copious amount of quasi-gospel/country harmonizing that simply drones on, never hitting the emotional beats it wants to. Doubly silly considering the lyrics never serve the music in any instance, soft pianos and acoustic guitars trying to convey the pathos of lines like “Once, I took your medication to know what it's like” and failing miserably. It’s what happens when there’s never any pushback to gratuitous, weepy singer/songwriting, times three.
You can hear traces of the Wrens and Mary Timony and Sufjan and that’s all well and good, but it’s like it was filtered through the ears and mind of Hozier and Jack Antonoff. No wonder Phoebe Bridgers has so many goddamn stans on Twitter, this is indie music for the pop brain. And you can’t have it both ways! Pop is good when it’s Pop, coiffed and pimped for pleasure or excess, not when it’s made into a Subaru commercial soundtrack. I know the Spotify AI is gonna get some good use outta the record.
We gotta stop with this shit. All the puff pieces and rousing tales of how they’re taking the mantle as queer rock stars and blazing trails for marginalized peoples, shut the fuck up!!! Julien Baker citing David Wojnarowicz and Leslie Feinberg being martyrs for them is nauseating, like in what world is this slop supposed to stand side by side with the greatest gay activists of all time. You are straight fucking trolling. Please, go ahead, enjoy this boring, vacuous facsimile of indie rock, but for the love of god no more identity politicking for what amounts to if Refinery29 made music.
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