- The alternative singer-songwriter’s release evokes Laura Marling’s lyricism and Arcade Fire’s pent-up energy
- The follow-up to ‘Stranger in the Alps’ is a near-perfect album
We may only be halfway through 2020, but we might have found the album of the year already. Phoebe Bridgers’ second full-length release Punisher is a catalogue of beautifully mellow, evocative, heartbreaking indie folk.
Lead single Garden Song is a perfect example of her artistic range. Muted bass and guitar picking are backed by grainy glitching, as she unwinds the diary-like imagery in her lyrics: “When I grow up/I’m gonna look up from my phone and see my life/It’s gonna be just like my recurring dream/I’m at the movies/I don’t remember what I’m seeing/The screen turns into a tidal wave.”
The vocoder vocals on the spiralling piano-led title track feel like a blend of the aching gentleness of indie-pop vocalist The Japanese House, and Laura Marling’s refined vocabulary and storytelling.
Bridgers really digs into her subconscious on Chinese Satellite. The reflective refrain, “I want to believe/Instead, I look at the sky and I feel nothing/You know I hate to be alone/I want to be wrong,” floats atop fluttering strings, then becomes a heady mix of erratic, wiry guitar and compressed drums.
There’s a more energetic element to the record, too. Kyoto features upbeat garage-rock stylings, with rising horn blasts creating a jubilant crescendo, while ICU has as much ambition and pent-up energy as any Arcade Fire song, with driving toms and chugging guitars reinforcing this.
Punisher is a perfect example of an artist finding beauty in pain.