Phoebe Bridgers has entered the radar of many indie lovers this year upon the release of her second album “Punisher.” Her diary-like storytelling, sorrowful disposition, smooth vocals, and folky melodies combine to make top-tier indie music. So, join me on my journey to parse out the best of… Phoebe Bridgers.
- “Motion Sickness”
What would a Best of Phoebe Bridgers be without her most well known single, “Motion Sickness”? This song, a mild expose of a toxic relationship, is one of her most melodically potent songs, and has a catchier chorus than most of her other works. Despite the upbeat sounding percussion and springy guitar, the song conveys the hurt that Bridgers went through during her relationship and her liberating herself from that hurt.
Favorite Lyric: “You said when you met me you were bored / And you, you were in a band when I was born.”
- “I Know the End”
The closer on her sophomore album, “Punisher,” “I Know the End” is one of her more experimental tracks. The song starts out like most of Phoebe Bridgers’ tunes, a soft whisper of longing, but it builds up to be a metal song, complete with blood-curdling screams and heavy percussion toward the end. This ballad about Bridgers’ mental health and struggle with depression is chock-full of noteworthy and breathtaking lyrics, and is by far one of the best album closers I’ve ever heard.
Favorite Lyric(s): “I’m always pushing you away from me / But you come back with gravity” and “Windows down, scream along / To some America First rap country song.”
- (cover of) “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure
This isn’t technically a work of Bridgers herself, but her cover of “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure is a refreshing take on the hit 90s rock song. Her soft vocals and the calming instrumentals feel like a breath of fresh air after a long day.
Favorite Lyric: “Dressed up to the eyes / It’s a wonderful surprise / To see your shoes and your spirits rise.”
- “Kyoto,” “Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version)”
“Kyoto” would be the song I would recommend to anyone looking to get into Phoebe Bridgers’ music. This unusually upbeat track is juxtaposed with lyrics about her rocky relationship with her father. This horn-heavy track is perfect to scream-sing along to in the car with friends, and is my personal remedy for hard days. More recently, Bridgers came out with a strings only version of the song with Rob Moose. This more melancholy take on the song makes the lyrics all the more powerful and is definitely a tearjerker.
Favorite Lyric: “Born under Scorpio skies / I wanted to see the world / Through your eyes until it happened / Then I changed my mind.”
This is definitely one of Bridgers’ saddest songs, as it is about the death of a close friend. This song seems to capture the darkness and light of grieving, and the feeling of celebrating a life publicly and mourning a death privately. This duality of grief is perfectly captured in the intro of the song, which starts out with a gritty reverbed electric guitar that flows into a melodic acoustic guitar. This track is one of my favorites from her debut album, “Stranger in the Alps.”
Favorite Lyric: “And I have this dream where I’m screaming underwater / While my friends are waving from the shore.”
- “Garden Song”
“Garden Song” is exactly what it sounds like it would be, a melodic and warm song about hopes and dreams– an unusually positive theme for Bridgers’ discography, but a welcome one. This leading single is what drew me to her discography, although not thematically on par with the rest of her music, it most definitely is sonically typical of her work.
Favorite Lyric: “The doctor put her hands over my liver / She told me my resentment’s getting smaller.”
This is merely an overview of my personal favorites, so if you’re just getting into Phoebe Bridgers, by all means don’t stop there. If you’re dying to listen to my picks now, check out this playlist. She has worked on many other projects including Boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center. She has also collaborated with Fiona Apple, The 1975, Lord Huron and quite a few others throughout her career. Bridgers did just announce on Nov. 10 that she is releasing an EP of songs from Punisher with string instrumentals, which we got a sneak peek of with her releasing “Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version).” Although I am definitely late to the Phoebe Bridgers scene, I am just glad to be here and that I can absorb her artistry.