Phoebe Bridgers’ stunning new album Punisher perhaps gives 2020 something to celebrate. Although Bridgers established her title as a songstress through her 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps and through collaborations with the likes of Boygenius and Conor Oberst, this second solo album has revealed an even more refined musician and lyricist.
The first track ‘DVD menu’ sets the tone with haunting instrumentals – a warning perhaps to proceed with caution, this album is heavy.
Much like on her debut, Bridgers’ distinct storytelling style shines through on this record. She finds the beauty, horror and humour in the ordinary, crafting brutally self-aware and emotionally charged lyrics that poke at her own insecurities; “So I will wait for the next time you want me, like a dog with a bird at your door.”
Her beautiful yet fragile melodies layered over plaintive instrumentals create that distinct Phoebe Bridgers sound. A somewhat hauntingly nostalgic atmosphere, familiar yet oddly unsettling. Upbeat tracks like ‘Kyoto’ offer a much appreciated change of pace to an album that follows a rather slow, dream-like flow.
The album finishes with ‘I Know The End’, an anxiety-inducing track that hears Bridgers screaming in its final moments. It encapsulates a sense of impending doom. With the year that’s in it, if 2020 had a soundtrack, this would be a good contender.
Aoibhe Casey, Music Contributor