Phoebe Bridgers’ sophomore album “Punisher” grapples with relationships, spirituality and the supernatural. The 28-year-old from Pasadena, California released her album in June 2020 and instantly received praise and admiration as well as new fans. The indie album consists of 11 songs, each with differing tempos and chilling sounds.
Bridgers gained popularity in the music scene with the 2017 release of her debut album, “Stranger in the Alps.” Many fans related to and appreciated Bridgers’ honesty. One of the more popular songs on the album, “Motion Sickness,” opens with the lines “I hate you for what you did / And I miss you like a little kid.”
Before releasing “Punisher,” Bridgers also worked with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes Band.
“Punisher’s” third song is titled after the Japanese city of Kyoto. It is incredibly upbeat when compared with the other somber, melancholic tunes on the record like “Halloween” or “Moon Song.” Kyoto opens with the lines,“Day off in Kyoto / Got bored at the temple / Looked around at the 7-Eleven.” These sorts of ironic, funny lines are unique throughout Bridgers’ discography. Some could argue that they serve as comedic relief and accurately display Bridgers’ witty personality. The song ends with “I wanted to see the world through your eyes until it happened / then I changed my mind / Guess I lied / I’m a liar / Who lies / ‘Cause I’m a liar.”
Often singing about personal and difficult experiences, Bridgers understands the value of candor. In an interview with MTV, she said, “If I didn’t write about personal stuff, I would be robbing myself of the experience of talking to fans with mirrored experiences.”
The fifth song on “Punisher,” “Halloween,” is eerie and subdued. It opens with a guitar solo and low sounds in the background. At the chorus, Bridgers sings, “Baby it’s Halloween / And we can be anything / Oh come on, man / We can be anything.” Here, it is obvious that the narrator is dissatisfied with their relationship. Bridgers applies the idea of Halloween – where people dress up and pretend – to a relationship. Listeners of “Punisher” often have to delve into the lyrics to discover their true meaning, which is what makes Bridgers’ music enjoyable to listen to and interact with.
The album’s ironically titled final song, “I Know the End,” starts with a slow tempo and gradually becomes more intense. Bridgers sings, “And when I call, you come home / A bird in your teeth.” In the third verse, the song’s beat increases and becomes more lively, and Bridgers’ voice matches the music. Toward the end, the song alludes to aliens with the lyrics, “Over the coast, everyone’s convinced / It’s a government drone, or an alien spaceship.” The song comes to an uncomfortable, unsettling, yet strangely fitting close through a long, drawn-out scream by Bridgers.
Phoebe Bridgers’ album Punisher is innovative in a lyrical and musical sense. She takes the listeners through stories and emotions in ways that are unconventional and exciting.