ALBUM REVIEW: Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

Credit: Promo

Release Date: June 18th 2020
Label: Dead Oceans


Phoebe Bridgers sprang onto the scene in in the middle of a decade where female representation in mainstream alternative music pretty much began and ended with Paramore. Since then, she’s carved out her path to become a chart-topping indie music maker, capable of universally acclaimed songwriting.

Sure, it’s been a little while since her debut LP ‘Stranger In The Alps’ back in 2017, but it’s not like she hasn’t been busy. After a couple of collaborative projects, namely boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Centre, Bridgers was ready to delve back into solo work. The result: a deep dive into her psyche and soul, ominously titled ‘Punisher’.

If you’re late to the game of that Millennial/Gen Z accessible lo-fi music trend, then Bridgers might be a good gateway. It’s not in her character to sound like she’s making an effort, as her vocals range from relaxed to chilled out, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that there’s no passion behind this project. The empathetic tones embedded in Bridgers‘ soulful singing prove that she’s put her heart into it.

Standout tracks include ‘Kyoto’, which embodies holiday vibes through sparkling indie beats. It’s unclear whether or not Bridgers is a fan of deliberate over mixing that gives much of her work an echoey, boxed-in edge. It really could be a deal breaker if this exceptionally stylised method isn’t to your taste, but the claustrophobic undertone to her subverts otherwise jovial music. Even when she sounds happy, Bridgers maintains her emo identity.

‘Halloween’ might not make it onto a Michael Myers movie soundtrack, but exploring a morbid romance through the metaphor of spooky season has its validity. ‘Moon Song’ is delightfully minimalistic, and lets Bridgers‘ voice shine through, while ‘ICU’ is a disjointed mishmash between electronic drum beats, piano, sharp violin, and more filtered vocals fighting for attention.

‘Punisher’ feels more than just Phoebe Bridgers‘ latest release – it’s more like an extension of herself. Few artists are as open and raw in their music as she, and fewer still do it this successfully.

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