Phoebe Bridgers releases her second album Punisher via Dead Oceans.
Phoebe Bridgers doesn’t write love songs as much as songs about the impact love can have on our lives, personalities, and priorities. Punisher, her fourth release and second solo album, is concerned with that subject. To say she writes about heartbreak is to undersell her blue wisdom, to say she writes about pain erases all the strange joy her music emanates. The arrival of Punisher cements Phoebe Bridgers as one of the most clever, tender and prolific songwriters of our era.
“Garden Song” was recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California and was produced by Bridgers and her Stranger In The Alps producers/collaborators Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska.
Bridgers is the rare artist with enough humor to deconstruct her own meteoric rise. Repeatedly praised by publications like The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, The Los Angeles Times and countless others, Bridgers herself is more interested in discussing topics on Twitter, deadpanning meditations on the humiliating process of being a person, she presents a sweetly funny flipside to the strikingly sad songs she writes. Fittingly, Punisher is fascinated with, and driven by, that kind of impossible tension.
The initial plan for the “Kyoto” video was to shoot in Japan in March 2020. When the trip was canceled - for obvious reasons - the video was completed with green screen in Los Angeles. Says Bridgers of the track,
“This song is about impostor syndrome. About being in Japan for the first time, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, and playing my music to people who want to hear it, feeling like I’m living someone else’s life. I dissociate when bad things happen to me, but also when good things happen. It can feel like I’m performing what I think I’m supposed to be like. I wrote this one as a ballad first, but at that point I was so sick of recording slow songs, it turned into this.”
Whether it’s writing tweets or songs, Bridgers’s singular talent lies in bringing fierce curiosity to slimy and painful things, interrogating them until they yield up answers that are beautiful and absurd, or faithfully reporting the reality that, sometimes, they are neither.
Bridgers pulls together a formidable crew of guests, including the Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Christian Lee Hutson and Conor Oberst as well as Nathaniel Walcott (of Bright Eyes), Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Jenny Lee Lindberg (of Warpaint), Blake Mills and Jim Keltner as well as her longtime bandmates Marshall Vore (drums), Harrison Whitford (guitar), Emily Retsas (bass) and Nick White (keys).
Says Bridgers of “I See You”,
“It’s about my breakup with my drummer. We dated for a few years, made music every day, and were extremely codependent. We became like family to each other, so our breakup was extremely tough.
But if this tells you anything about our relationship, we wrote this song together, just like
The album was mixed by Mike Mogis, who also mixed Stranger In The Alps.
On the album’s epic, freewheeling closer, “I Know The End,” Bridgers orchestrates wails and horns, drums and electric guitar into a sumptuous doomsday swirl, culminating in her own final whispered roar.
This is Punisher in a nutshell: devastating elegance punctuated by a moment of deeply campy self-awareness.
Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher