Phoebe Bridger’s sophomore Grammy-nominated album Punisher, is an emotional, poetic album, that deals with the ideas of death, grief and heartbreak.
During a pandemic, we as music consumers have been exploring new music scenes whether it be pop, rap or alternative rock to pass this unprecedented time. Although Bridgers started writing Punisher before the pandemic, the songs relate to this time as she released the album on June 17th, 2020.
The album opens with a track called DVD Menu; an instrumental track that sets the tone with its dark, orchestrated, 1:10 minute introduction to the “Garden Song.” “The Garden Song”, beautifully rhythmic but dark, spirited lyrics foreshadows the common theme of emotion you will discover listening to in the rest of the album. Although the song is a sweet ballad, it is ironic that the song talks about manifesting the death of her ex-boyfriend’s Neo-Nazi neighbor as well as romanticizing her future. “And when I grow up, I’m gonna look up from my phone and see my life”, are lyrics and advice we should take as we move forward from this isolated time.
The Grammy nominated song “Kyoto”, written while Bridgers visited Tokyo on her 2019 tour, talks about the loneliness of being away from home but also having relationship problems from far away with her father and being angry while being in a different part of the world. In multiple interviews, Bridgers says that the album and her art in general is heavily inspired by Elliot Smith, the late singer songwriter, and her good friend Conor Oberst, a singer songwriter from the band, Bright Eyes.
One of the saddest tracks off the album, “Moon Song”, is one of the many ballads off the album that has a hint of humor tied into its poetic, heart wrenching lyrics and music. The last track, featured on Saturday Night Live, “I Know The End”, is a perfect way to end the journey of emotions that is Punisher. “I Know The End” is about the feeling that the world is ending in an apocalyptic way. Phoebe is all about big endings and something for fans to take away from the album. The song starts with a slow guitar melody and soft vocals. Slowly, it turns into a creepy rock song with a powerful crescendo with blaring horns and loud guitar and drums, followed by the screams of her and her friends. “Either way, we’re not alone, I’ll find a new place to be from…I turned around, there was nothing there, yeah I guess the end is here”. When listening to this album amid the pandemic, it will make you feel hypersensitive as Bridgers projects her bloodcurdling, nightmare of a scream at the very end of the album.
If you feel broken down by the pandemic or even upset with our world, take a listen to Phoebe Bridgers latest album, Punisher for that cathartic release you’re looking for. At the very least, it will make you feel as if you aren’t alone.