'the rest' Confirms boygenius as One of 2023's Defining Bands

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BY Alex HudsonPublished Oct 13, 2023

I have no clue how many concerts I've been to over the past 20-odd years of show-going, but I know exactly how many I've cried at: one. That was at boygenius when they played Toronto this past June, as the entire audience sang "I wanna be emaciated" at the crescendo of "My & My Dog," a beautiful moment in which an amphitheatre screamed along in solidarity with a crushingly vulnerable lyric.

The trio of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus are capping off their triumphant 2023 with the rest — an EP that, contrary to what the title suggests, was actually made separately from the record, featuring songs that weren't ready in time for the full-length.

It largely finds the boys in low-key form, not delivering towering anthems on the level of the record standout "Not Strong Enough," but instead looking unflinchingly inward and emerging changed. The Dacus-led troubadour ballad "Afraid of Heights" chronicles a relationship with an anarchistic risk-taker, but the most revealing observation is one that Dacus makes about herself: "I never rode a motorcycle / I've never smoked a cigarette / I wanna live a vibrant life / But I wanna die a boring death."

Baker is even more raw in her self-searching, as she riffs on superhero tropes on closer "powers," imagining herself having emerged from a nuclear reactor as "another of the universe's failed experiments." But, as the acoustic arrangement swells with twinkling, reverb-drenched ambience, her gaze into the mirror becomes cosmically beautiful: "The tail of a comet burned up in an instant, the destruction of matter / There's no object to be seen in the supercollider / Just a light in the tunnel and whatever gets scattered."

With her bandmates' voices joining her in harmony, it's another moment akin to that tear-jerking climax of "My & My Dog": a moment of intense self-scrutiny that, thanks to the trio's comforting group harmonies, becomes an opportunity for collective catharsis. As we near the end of 2023, it reasserts boygenius as one of the year's defining bands, and even more than the sum of their formidable parts.

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