(Photo Credit - Olof Grind)
Advance Review - Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (June 19, 2020) via Dead Oceans
Since the release of her critically acclaimed Stranger in the Alps (2017), Phoebe Bridgers has been one of the most prolific artists in alt music. She first helped form the super group boygenius who released the eponymous EP in 2018 to commercial and critical success. Next, I (incorrectly) predicted that Bridgers would next focus on her sophomore solo release. Bridgers swerved and formed another super group, Better Oblivion Community Center with Bright Eyes' frontman Conor Oberst. The self-titled album also received critical and commercial acclaim.
Since Stranger in the Alps and the ensuing musical madness, Bridgers has quickly become a favorite of mine personally and a favorite among the contributors here at Alt Revue. So needless to say, on April 9, 2020 when it was announced that Bridgers would be releasing her sophomore album Punisher in June, we were all extremely excited. That said, let's take a dive into Punisher.
Bridgers again shows why she is among the very best songwriters in music today with Punisher. She's absolutely fearless as she tangles with themes of alcoholism, disassociation, interpersonal relationships, and self-discovery. She does this all while displaying a sharp wit, all the while being self-aware throughout each track. Vocally, she's stunning and also receives an all-star cast of support including Conor Oberst, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus, just to name a few.
Musically, Bridgers expands her worldview a bit by including horns and strings throughout songs (Particularly "Kyoto", "Chinese Satellite", "Savior Complex", "Graceland Too"). Some of the tracks may feel melodically familiar, (such as "Moon Song"). However, there are those that are altogether different than her past work (like "Kyoto", "I See You", and "I Know the End").
The ending result of all of this is an album that is clean, precise, and self-aware. Bridgers shines even more on this one with the added duties she took on as a co-producer. Musically, she took a lot of risks including a variety of sounds such as the alt-folk "Graceland Too" and the large-scale tune that is "I Know the End". These risks paid off immensely as Bridgers maintains one foot in what makes her great, all while the other takes a step in a new direction. With Punisher, Bridgers has jumped to the head of the pack for 2020's album of the year. And it couldn't have come at a better time.
Rating - 5/5