Song of the Week: boygenius Unveil a Worship Song for Non-Believers on “Not Strong Enough”

Yves Tumor, Braids, and Dog Race also dropped essential tracks

boygenius song of the week not strong enough stream listen
boygenius, photo by Lera Pentelute

    Song of the Week delves into the newest songs we just can’t get out of our heads. Find these tracks and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, boygenius explore devotion through the lens of self-doubt, self-love, and Sheryl Crow.

    Some of my earliest memories involve listening to music in the backseat of my mom’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was there that I learned about heartbreak from Bonnie Raitt, second chances from James Taylor, self-advocacy from Alanis Morissette, and gratitude from Natalie Merchant. We played these songs over and over and over, volume turned up probably a little too loud, and I can remember closing my eyes and letting the sound wrap itself around me like a hug.

    But the artist I most associate with those blissful childhood drives is Sheryl Crow. We’d sing along to “Leaving Las Vegas,” “If It Makes You Happy,” and “Everyday Is a Winding Road,” but my favorite was the ballad “Strong Enough” — “God I feel like hell tonight/ Tears of rage I cannot fight.” As an emotional young kid, those words cut deep, the loneliness and desperation of Crow’s lyrics burrowing into some hidden place inside me.


    Fast forward to this week and the release of boygenius’ latest single, “Not Strong Enough.” The trio of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker had already teased their upcoming debut album the record with three singles showcasing the band’s range: the full-speed-ahead rocker, “$20,” the wounded mea culpa, “Emily I’m Sorry,” and the ode to unconditional love, “True Blue.” But, you see, the chorus on “Not Strong Enough” features the lyrics, “The way I am/ Not strong enough to be your man” A Sheryl Crow reference? I texted my mom, now living over 300 miles away, the Jeep Grand Cherokee long out of commission. What did she think?

    She was a fan of the harmonies. She thought they were “3 very cool women who sing like they’re far older than they are.” She observed they were “very comfortable dropping F bombs into their lyrics,” adding, “which I have no problem with.”

    Great music transports you, lighting up some part of your brain that reminds you what it was like to be naive and innocent and all potential. “Not Strong Enough,” with its commentary on duality (“Half a mind that keeps the other second guessing”), soaring vocals, and epic bridge with Dacus leading the incantation of “always an angel, never a god,” taps into that younger, hopeful part of me. It’s a worship song for a non-believer.


    My parents split up when I was 4, and I think music helped answer some of those complicated questions I had about growing up and becoming a man that I didn’t yet possess the vocabulary to articulate. Maybe we weren’t ready for certain conversations, but we had a treasure trove of albums to provide us with the language of common ground. “Not Strong Enough” carries that torch for a new generation. It’s an anthem crafted by three strong, independent women reminiscent of the art I associate with my mother, the first strong, independent woman I ever knew. — Spencer Dukoff

    Honorable Mentions

    Dog Race — “There’s a Mouse in My House”

    Ambitious, turn-of-the-millennium indie rock is back in a big way — and boy do we mean big. The second single from London trio of Katie Healy, Jed Finkelstein, and James Kelly is an irresistible descent into paranoia that starts out humming with nervous energy and builds into a towering wall of sound. Finkelstein’s drums scuttle back and forth from left to right speaker like something baanging about in the walls, while Healy’s voice grows increasingly frantic with every, “There’s a mouse in my house!” In the end, the lyrics are swallowed in a blizzard of keyboards, and glorious madness reigns. — Wren Graves

    Draag – “Mitsuwa”
    Los Angeles shoegaze quintet Draag have shared “Mitsuwa,” the first single off their upcoming debut album, Dark Fire Heresy. When it comes to shoegaze, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of “vibes for the sake of vibes.” But not only is “Mitsuwa” a beautiful example of the band’s blissed-out guitar jams, it’s got layers of complicated emotions swimming underneath. Frontwoman Jessica Huang sought to touch upon the knotty subject of religious trauma — with an equal emphasis on both the retrospective confusion and the necessary healing process, “Mitsuwa” is a serenely crafted offering from Draag, and one that acknowledges that pain and release go hand-in-hand. — Paolo Ragusa


    Avalon Emerson & The Charm – “Hot Evening”
    Producer and songwriter Avalon Emerson has released “Hot Evening,” another standout offering from her debut project as Avalon Emerson & The Charm. “Hot Evening” advances upon the majestic dream pop displayed in her previous single, “Sandrail Silhouette,” but this time, she plays even more to her strengths, rooting the song in a bustling garage beat and a buoyant bass line. Even more satisfying is hearing Emerson embrace her tender singing voice — with such an extensive past behind the DJ booth, her new songs as Avalon Emerson & The Charm are a thrilling advancement of what her artistry can be. — P.R.

    Yves Tumor – “Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood”

    Twenty seconds into “Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood,” the looped psych-funk sample is interrupted by what sounds like a pre-teen child providing the listener with a message of encouragement: “Well if you die, it’s okay/ You can just restart.” The sentiment couldn’t be more Yves Tumor, an artist unbound by restraints of genre, trends, or even their past work. “Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood,” the latest from the upcoming Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume, once again sees the enigmatic artist find new and exciting ways to entrance you in sound. With larger-than-life drums, wailing synth lines, and a surprisingly wide dynamic range, the tune grabs hold of you with both hands and doesn’t let go until long after the song is over.  – Jonah Krueger

    Dim Wizard – “Ride the Vibe”

    For a niche audience of indie rock and power-pop enthusiasts, throw the names Jeff Rosenstock and Illuminati Hotties on anything, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Fortunately, Dim Wizard’s “Ride the Vibe,” which features both artists and Steve Coilek of The Sidekicks, is enough of a bop to capture the ears of those not already swayed by the song’s indie star power. The tune features chant-worthy verses, fists-in-the-air choruses, and passionate performances – it’s simply irresistible. Throw it on and you’ll be humming it for the rest of the month. – J.K.


    Alix Page — “Automatic”

    Rising vocalist Alix Page captures the feeling of vicious circles in the chorus of her latest, “Automatic.” Harnessing the power of repetition to underscore the point, the track starts out acoustic and builds as the vocalist’s own frustration does, too, before pulling back into something melancholy, reflective, and restrained. In the vein of Chelsea Cutler or Tate McRae, Page’s lyrics get to the heart of an experience that might be all too familiar to some: “In the end, you regret that you let me back into your space/ What a shame, it’s just what happens/ It’s automatic.” — Mary Siroky

    Braids — “Apple”

    In need of a new shoegaze love song to add to that one playlist that makes you feel like the protagonist of a coming of age movie at a climactic crossroads? The new single from Montreal-based group Braids is here to get the job done. This dreamy new track cascades like a wave, familiar and comforting, before leaving plenty of room towards the end of the song for instrumentals and a descent into a small piano solo. Ahead of their new album, Euphoric Recall, which will arrive April 28th, “Apple” is the perfect introduction to the group for any new listeners. — M.S.

    Drug Church — “Myopic”

    On their new single “Myopic,” Drug Church have swapped out their rose-tinted lenses for something a bit more precise. The post-hardcore band steep their frustrations in thrashing drums and ear-splitting riffs, and the result is a coming-of-age that finds peace in the society’s pitfalls: “I forgive all of life’s hassles/ From flat tires to thieving bosses/ Overdrafts to cheating exes,” Patrick Kindlon confesses in his signature gravelly belt. “Now I’m on a constant watch/ Cynical, not bitterness.”“Myopic” is somewhat of an exercise in acceptance, but that doesn’t mean it’s nihilistic. Drug Church seem to argue that people are inherently selfish and apologies are as flimsy as a day-old Band-Aid; the plus side is that once you realize this, however, the world holds less power in bringing you down. — Abby Jones


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