After releasing her critically acclaimed sophomore release, Punisher, back in the summer only to have it earn her 4 Grammy nods including Best New Artist, singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has collaborated with orchestrator Rob Moose to re-present 4 songs from that strong indie rock collection. Moose is best known for his work with Bon Iver, but has created string arrangements for The Decemberists, The National, St. Vincent, They Might Be Giants, and many more. Here, his smart orchestrations lift Bridgers’ vocals and lyrics out of the noisier originals, not only allowing her voice to better shine through, but also for the hefty dark weight of her lyrics to come more clearly into focus.
Bridgers has also just released a new video around the album version of her song, “Savior Complex,” filmed by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge and starring the actor from the popular Hulu show, “Normal People,” Paul Mescal, which folk are describing as having a very David Lynch-like quality. Here on the EP, supported only by Moose’s delicate violins, we’re drawn to the stark descriptions in her poetic lyrics defining a tendency toward co-dependence. “Kyoto,” her strong pop/rock single” is similarly quieter, her vocal that much more centered by Moose’s strings. For “Chinese Satellite” the chunkier darker textures of an orchestra give the brooding content a heftier vibe. The album’s title track, “Punisher,” which imagines the singer’s brush with her songwriting hero, the late Elliott Smith, the tone is suitably brighter than the three previous tracks. On the whole, this EP only adds to the growing interest in Bridgers’ potential and promise as a budding artist, whose work with Ethan Gruska, Conor Oberst, and now Rob Moose reveal she works well with others.
Artists With Similar Fire: Julien Baker / Angel Olsen / Adrianne Lenker
Phoebe Bridgers Review History: Punisher (2020)
-Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb