A Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter with a dreamy and hook-filled indie pop heart, Phoebe Bridgers' witty lyrical perspectives, sadly beautiful songs, and commanding melodies quickly jettisoned her to worldwide acclaim. Bridgers emerged out of nowhere in 2015, and in the space of just a few years was collaborating with veterans like Conor Oberst and peers like Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker as millions of fans connected with her work. In addition to her high-profile collaborations, Bridgers' solo albums drew significant praise and attention, with a solid debut giving way to darker tones on 2020's Grammy-nominated Punisher. Bridgers was born in 1994 in Pasadena, California. She began playing guitar and writing songs at age 11, and by the time she was a teenager, she frequently played around L.A. while attending Los Angeles County High School for the Arts by day. Bridgers released her debut 7", "Killer," in 2015 via Ryan Adams' Pax AM label. A trio of buzzworthy singles -- "Smoke Signals," "Funeral," and "Motion Sickness" -- appeared in early 2017 in anticipation of the release of her Dead Oceans-issued debut LP, Stranger in the Alps, which arrived later that September. In 2018, Bridgers garnered even more widespread acclaim with the release of the Boygenius EP, a collaborative effort with fellow indie songwriters Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. At this point, Bridgers was a critical darling, with her albums receiving rave reviews across the board. Song placements in movies and television, multiple appearances on NPR's popular Tiny Desk series, and one-off collaborations with big name indie stars were all in the works. In January of 2019, Bridgers and Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst surprise-released a self-titled album from their new co-led band Better Oblivion Community Center. Oberst and Bridgers had already sung together on a track from Stranger in the Alps, but the new project further explored their collaborative chemistry. The band made several television appearances and toured the U.S. and Europe shortly after the album's release. In 2020, Bridgers revealed that her second solo album, Punisher, was complete and would arrive later in the year. In advance of the album's release she began sharing new songs, starting with the drifty folk of "Garden Song" and following it weeks later with "Kyoto." Punisher was released in June of 2020, again on Dead Oceans. A major critical success, it was also a commercial breakthrough for Bridgers and garnered four Grammy Award nominations including Best New Artist. A companion piece to Punisher was released a few months later in the form of Copycat Killer. This EP reworked four songs from the album with string arrangements from conductor/producer Rob Moose. Before 2020 was through, Bridgers released yet another EP, the holiday-themed If We Make It Through December. This four-song EP included various traditional and otherwise Christmas- or holiday-oriented songs and included contributions from Fiona Apple and the National's Matt Berninger.
© James Christopher Monger /TiVo
© James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 18, 2020 | Dead Oceans
Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Phoebe Bridgers has said she's a huge Elliott Smith fan—the name Punisher is a reference to an overzealous admirer, and the title track is about her love of the late singer-songwriter. You can hear his influence all over the album: the heartbreaking pathways of "Savior Complex"; the melody that drops down when you expect ascension on "Moon Song." But while Smith's lyrics could be clever, Bridgers' wordplay is unique. "The doctor put her hands over my liver/ She told me my resentment's getting smaller," she sings on "Garden Song." Not that she needs to hide behind jokes: "I've been running around in circles, pretending to be myself/Why would somebody do this on purpose when they could do something else?" she asks on "Chinese Satellite," the quiet instruments of the verses eventually erupting as if to shadow her feelings. There are other shadows at play, too: a male harmony haunting her light-as-air vocals on "Garden Song" and the otherwise ethereal "Halloween," and the specter of her father—she's spoken of his substance-abuse issues—darkening the lyrics of "Kyoto" even as Mellotron and amiable '90s drums provide aural sunshine. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz