the rest by boygenius // EP review

the rest is the latest release from boygenius, following up their incredible debut album, the record, that was released earlier this year. This is a four-song companion piece to the record, perfect for those that were craving just a little bit more from the trio. boygenius is comprised of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. All three have really great solo careers, but when they collaborate it is always magic. the record is one of my favorite albums of the year and I was happy to hear more from them so soon. Much like their full-length album, this EP feels very rooted in their personal musical influences and style of their solo music, but crafted in a way that creates the unique collective sound of boygenius.

the rest* is only about 12 minutes long and is overall a much looser and less-refined approach to music than we have heard from them so far, whether it is their self-titled EP from 2018 or the record from earlier this year. While I don't think the rest necessarily breaks any new ground for them, these four songs are still really beautiful pieces of music with moments of deep introspection through the lyrics. Parts of this EP deal with heavier topics and meditations on the meaning of life. It is very existential and thought-provoking lyrically. Topics of facing your fears and the pursuit to live a vibrant life are also explored in a really moving way.

"Black Hole" is the opening song, which feels like it maybe was a working idea for a full-length song but was released as-is. I say that mostly because it is very short and has kind of an abrupt ending to it, in a way that is uncharacteristic of their other music. It is mostly featuring vocals from Julien and Lucy, with very descriptive observations of the world around them. "When we were recording, Lucy showed me a tweet that was a headline that was like, 'Black Hole Creating Stars,' instead of just sucking them up and destroying them. And everybody on the internet was like, 'Can't wait to see how many people put this in a poem!' And I was like, 'Yeah, I'm gonna be one!'" Julien said during a live performance at Fingerprints record store in Long Beach, California. 

Above it all, this EP is another testament to how strong Julien, Lucy and Phoebe are as songwriters and storytellers, even in their simplest moments like "Black Hole". That beautiful storytelling is also very present in the second track, "Afraid of Heights". It's one of the best songs of this EP, in my opinion, there are so many times I am just so blown away by the beauty and vulnerability in the lyricism. "I wanna live a vibrant life, but I wanna die a boring death, I know I was a disappointment, know you wanted me to take a risk, not everybody gets the chance to live a life that isn't dangerous," in particular is one of my favorite verses. 

It feels like "Afraid of Heights" could have been included on the record, but ultimately, it's placement on the rest gives it a chance to really shine on this shorter release. I feel similarly about the third track, "Voyager" being on the rest instead of the record as well. This Phoebe-led track is just so gut wrenching, but also really beautiful at the same time. That is what has always made her art so powerful, in my opinion. "And I don't mean to make it all about me, but I used to believe no one could love you like I do, and I'm startin' to think that it might be impossible not to," she sings accompanied by beautiful harmonies from Julien and Lucy in the background. It reminds me so much of "Letter To An Old Poet" and "Cool About It" from the record, as well as songs from Punisher like "Moon Song" and "Savior Complex". "Moon Song" is referenced lyrically in this song and feels very connected to the message of "Voyager". The recurring celestial and space-themes explored throughout this EP also tie back into the aesthetics of Punisher too. "Walkin' alone in the city, makes me feel like a man on the moon, every small step I took was so easy, but I never imagined a dot quite as pale or as blue", she sings in the final verse. This is in reference to a famous Carl Sagan speech about an image of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990 called “Pale Blue Dot”. The final line of the song has such a strong impact that truly gives me chills every time I hear her sing, "You took it from me, but I would've given it to you". 

The final song on the EP is called "Powers", which is quite a heavy ending to the EP. It is very raw and has minimal production, the focus is only on Julien's voice and guitar. The story being told on "Powers" is so compelling and emotional to listen to. "How did it start? Did I fall into a nuclear reactor? Crawl out with acid skin or somethin' worse ... Or am I simply another of the universe's failed experiments?" Julien sings in the opening lines. This song focuses on the personal path to self-discovery in such an intriguing way by drawing comparisons to classic supervillain origin stories. It tackles the complex emotions of trying to come to terms with all of the things that make you into the person you are, as well as trying to find your place in the world. It reminds me of a lyric from "Not Strong Enough", "I don't know why I am the way I am". At the same time, it also kind of looks at all of these fragments of who we are in a positive way, by referring to these traits as powers instead of flaws. "Powers" keeps building and building to a beautiful instrumental horn outro for the final two minutes of the EP. It feels so symbolic, as if it is like closing a chapter for boygenius. 

If you are interested in buying a copy of the rest by boygenius*, I would really appreciate if you would do so through my affiliate link, which I may earn a commission from ♡ Shop more boygenius music here!*

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! I'd love for you to check out my review of the record by boygenius too! 

-Melissa ♡

all photo credit to owners: Interscope Records, boygenius

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