Julien Baker wanted one particular thing for her trio with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus: more sick riffs. (See also: "Salt in the Wound.") The riffs she delivered on "$20," a new track from boygenius' forthcoming album, are propulsive and muscular, while the lyrics tend toward classic Baker themes: self-destructive tendencies, messy relationships, reaching your breaking point. But it's still unmistakably a boygenius song; Baker's delivery is buoyed by Bridgers' and Dacus' harmonies. You can picture the three songwriters in the studio headbanging in solidarity between takes — especially in the song's back half, where each voice emerges as distinct.
But often the magic of boygenius is the way its songs don't force the three songwriters to conform to a single vision, but synthesizes their strengths and draws meaning out of those multiple points of view. When that approach shows up across "$20" — as Dacus croons, Bridgers screams and Baker shreds — it gives the song a wonderfully chaotic, multifaceted character, like hearing your best and worst impulses battle it out in your internal monologue and coming away better for it.
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