Review: Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher

When asked about the pressure of writing the follow-up to her successful debut Stranger in the Alps, Phoebe Bridgers responded with an emphatic fuck no. “I made the whole record knowing that people were going to hear it. And I made the first record being like, “I wonder if I’m going to have to get a day job after this,” Bridgers explained in a recent UPROXX interview. “Mostly I just wanted it to be better than the first record, which I think it is.” With that clearheaded mindset, Bridgers’s new record Punisher accomplishes that and more – her lyricism has never been sharper while each track features richer and deeper song textures than ever before.

With Punisher, Bridgers’s worldview continues to expand even as the world around her (and us) falls apart. Love, death, and the impending apocalypse are consistently swirling around us, and Bridgers is fiercely captivated by every detail and how they exist within everyday banalities. Her interpretations and retelling of each one is wittier and sharper than ever. “Garden Song” begins with Bridgers daydreaming of living in her friend’s “house up on the hill,” but only after implying that the white supremacist neighbor has been murdered and buried in her new garden. There’s a contentment behind the wistful opener as she reveals that “the doctor put her hands over my liver/she told me my resentment’s getting smaller,” melancholically sighing, “No, I’m not afraid of hard work/I get everything I want/I have everything I wanted.”

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Phoebe Bridgers Vulture Interview

Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers talked with Vulture about her new album:

Well, it’s definitely sad music. But I think there’s just a fine line between [that and] a sad girl, tongue face. Sometimes people will come up to me and be like, “Oh, my God. I’m so fucking depressed. Ha ha ha ha ha.” And I’m like, “Are you okay?” The conversations I want to have are like, “Can we all heal?” But I’m also flattered because my favorite music is lumped into those genres, like Julien [Baker], Soccer Mommy, Bright Eyes, and Elliott Smith. It’s as if it’s a fashion statement and not literally a mental illness. But again, I know that we are all in the “scene,” and I’m sure there are shoegaze bands that sing about dumb shit that struggle with the same stuff. It’s just we talk about it more explicitly.

I don’t think [what we’re doing] is saving the world or anything, but I’m always relieved when art is real and telling the truth. Things that mean a lot to me are perspectives I’ve never heard before, which inherently is whoever’s talking about their personal experience. My friend Haley Dahl, who’s in a band called Sloppy Jane, did this insane interview that I read where she was like, “Tell the truth because otherwise, if you lie, you’ll have to create each reality and keep track of what you are and aren’t allowed to do, or say to who or not say to someone.” I just want to make stuff that’s true.

Phoebe Bridgers Playboy Interview

Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers was interviewed with Carmen Maria Machado for Playboy:

Actually, this is a conundrum too: My most literal lyrics sometimes sound like my spookiest. In “Garden Song,” the line “The doctor put her hands over my liver and told me my resentment is getting smaller”—that was a nutritionist in Los Angeles who literally did that to me. My imagination is not as creative as my reality.

The link is NSFW, but it’s a good interview.

How Phoebe Bridgers Made ‘Punisher’

Phoebe Bridgers

Angie Martoccio, writing for Rolling Stone:

“Halloween” is a twisted holiday song, where she playfully sings, “But I count on you to tell me the truth/When you’ve been drinking and you’re wearing a mask,” backed by an upright bass and subtle synths. Her vocals sail through the octaves, producing a chilling effect. “I love how sad it is to throw depression into a holiday,” she says. “I don’t want to do Christmas, because that’s overdone. But I had a voice memo on my phone, because I was trying to get stuff to sample on Halloween one year where I was totally by myself, and it’s children laughing in the background. It’s just so fucked up and weird to me.”