New Music Reviews

Boygenius’ Not Strong Enough: Depression, Toxic Masculinity and Beauty

Indie powerhouses Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus team up again in Boygenius with their latest release The Record. This is their first studio LP, but not their first recording. In 2018 they released a self titled EP, which leaned more into the folk side of indie rock than their current sound. I love all of these women’s solo work…and having them altogether on one band is a musical treat. It’s been a long 4 – 5 years waiting for this LP follow – up, so the question is, was it worth the wait?

In short..what are you, insane?! Oh course it was. But seriously, the band’s sound is more complex and eclectic. They can move from lo – fi / indie rock to folk and over to Bruce Springsteen-esque American drudges effortlessly from track to track. The production value on The Record is lightyears better than their previous EP, but The Record keeps an intimate and raw sound. There is a warmth and fullness on their latest release that really rounds the album out and gives it a presence.

The track Not Strong Enough is a prime example of everything I love about this record. Musically, the track’s arrangement is quite complex with a number of different instruments coming together to make a full and epic sound. We have percussion, bass, guitar and some well placed synth that all work together to create this track somewhere between Lucinda Williams’ country and indie rock. The track itself is really tight with all vocals and instruments coming together really well. Boygenious sounds more like a band that’s been playing together for decades than a side project super group.

Having said all of that, the song really shines in the lyrics and vocal. The first verse sees us taking the perspective of a man who does not have the energy to fix the time on the clocks as he stairs at the ceiling, while the next verse is about men racing cars to their deaths. In both cases, the question is posed…why are we this way? There is no answer, other than they are not strong enough to change. Not strong enough to reach out for support, not strong enough to challenge the masculinity that is getting them killed and not strong enough to connect with others. Ultimately, the song ends with the person going home alone…stuck in their thoughts…stuck in their self – loathing and toxicity.

Now…that is a pretty dark reading, but Boygenius takes this content and layers it with such vocal beauty. It’s like a rainbow in a tornado. More correctly, it is like standing the the eye of a hurricane…you are in the still beauty of life, but surrounded by destruction that can come down on you at any moment. The vocal beauty of this song can transport you to another plane of existence. So, strap on your ear goggles, put this track up, close your eyes and soar with that beautiful chorus.

Listen to Not Strong Enough

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