Three years after the release of her solo debut ‘Stranger In The Alps’, Phoebe Bridgers has released her highly anticipated album ‘Punisher’ earlier than expected in order to encourage fans to donate to organisations geared towards racial injustice. Announcing the release, she tweeted:
“I’m not pushing the record until things go back to ‘normal’ because I don’t think they should. Here it is a little early. Abolish the police. Hope you like it.”
You can listen to the album via the link below after donating to one of the amazing organisations suggested such as Movement For Black Lives, Downtown Women’s Centre and The Trevor Project. We have included information about each charity at the end of our review to allow you to make an informed donation.
The album begins with a dreamy instrumental introduction, setting the tone for the tracks ahead before blending into ‘Garden Song’ which Phoebe explained she wrote about the reoccurring nightmares she had while on tour. The stripped back acoustic style accentuates her vocals and and allows her to paint a picture in your mind, letting the lyrics speak for themselves.
Next we have the uptempo indie rock sound of ‘Kyoto’ which brings a gradual build of punchy riffs throughout, catchy melodies and lyrics which explore Phoebe’s inner musings during her tour across Japan. The unique accompaniment of the horn creates a joyful fanfare that would fit perfectly into a coming of age indie movie soundtrack, despite the darker tone to some of the lyrics
The title track ‘Punisher’ was written as an ode to Singer-Songwriter Elliott Smith. Speaking to The New Yorker, Phoebe said that she is a super fan who knows far too much about his music to the point where it’s almost obsessive, leading to her writing the track as if she were the punisher. The perfect blend of vulnerable lyrics and raw vocals make this track one of our favourites on the album.
Track 5, the eery ‘Halloween’ explores the idea that you can be whoever you want without judgement on Halloween, which may lead you to making unexpected decisions. This flows nicely into the relatable ‘Chinese Satellite’ which features a whimsical sound with a darker undertone due to it’s raw lyrics about feeling alone and trapped.
Phoebe’s hard hitting lyrics and vulnerable writing flows into ‘Moon Song’, a double sided love song exploring the rollercoaster of a relationship and ‘Saviour Complex’ which describes the psychological construct of a saviour complex within a relationship and her experiences battling with her personality. These tracks feel as though she is inviting the listener in and sharing personal aspects of her life, drawing you further into the story she is telling throughout the album.
Coming towards the end of the album, Phoebe introduces a fresh, almost electronic sound with track 9 ‘I See You’ which she wrote about her difficult breakup with her drummer, Marshall Vore and knowing that the two wrote this track together adds another layer to the story. Speaking about their relationship in an interview with Rolling Stone, Phoebe said:
“We dated for a few years, made music every day, and were extremely co-dependent. 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 everything else.”
Phoebe Bridgers – Rolling Stone
The penultimate track on the album ‘Graceland Too’ began as a track about an MDMA trip but then developed into a reflection of the pain of caring for someone who is self-destructive and the difficulties and emotions that come alongside trying to be there for people, without being able to control their actions. The final track ‘I Know The End’ then pulls the album smoothly to a close, featuring lyrics about not being afraid to disappear, continuing the theme of abandoning what you know and creating a new reality for yourself. The lyrics aptly end on the haunting line ‘the end is near’ before building into a crescendo that portrays a release of pure emotion, contrasting greatly to the soft nature of the first half of the album and creating a profound statement of an ending.
Overall, ‘Punisher’ is a triumph of indie-folk, made even stronger by it’s purpose to support several amazing causes. Our personal highlights include Graceland Too, Punisher and Kyoto. If you would like to listen for yourself, full details on each charity that Phoebe is seeking donations for have been listed below.
M4BL: Movement For Black Lives
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) seeks to reach millions, mobilise hundreds of thousands, and organise tens of thousands, so that Black political power is a force able to influence national and local agendas in the direction of their shared Vision for Black Lives. There website holds a range of useful resources and information on their activism, transformative goals and how you can help make a difference
LACAN are working to create real change to the law enforcement system in the United States. Their 8 step vision includes defunding the police and returning those dollars to community based safety interventions, prosecuting cops who kill or otherwise harm Black people, prohibiting police unions from financing campaigns for district attorney, ending community policing programs, dismantling various surveillance technologies, giving civilian oversight power and changing legal mandates that enable authoritarian policing like ‘qualified immunity’. They also offer many amazing community programs, full information can be found on their website linked below.
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is an alliance of different organisations and individuals, each with their own interests, mission and vision, who come together to collaborate and take collective action together toward a common goal. They reject all forms of police oppression and any policy that makes Black people suspects in the eyes of the State. Their vision is the dismantling of government-sanctioned spying and intelligence gathering, in all its multiple forms. On their website you can find lots of useful resources, information about their activism and how you can get involved and show your support.
Essie Justice Group
Essie Justice Group is a nonprofit organisation of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration. Their award-winning Healing to Advocacy Model brings women together to heal, build collective power, and drive social change. They are building a membership of fierce advocates for race and gender justice — including Black and Latinx women, formerly and currently incarcerated women, transgender women, and gender non-conforming people.
Downtown Women’s Centre
The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) is the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women. They envision a Los Angeles with every woman housed and on a path to personal stability. Their mission is to end homelessness for women in greater Los Angeles through housing, wellness, employment, and advocacy.
Youth Justice Coalition
The Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is working to build a youth, family, and formerly and currently incarcerated people’s movement to challenge America’s addiction to incarceration and race, gender and class discrimination in Los Angeles County’s, California’s and the nation’s juvenile and criminal injustice systems. The YJC’s goal is to dismantle policies and institutions that have ensured the massive lock-up of people of colour, widespread law enforcement violence and corruption, consistent violation of youth and communities’ Constitutional and human rights, the construction of a vicious school-to-jail track, and the build-up of the world’s largest network of jails and prisons. They use transformative justice and community intervention/peace building, FREE LA High School, know your rights, legal defence, and police and court monitoring to “starve the beast” – promoting safety in our schools, homes and neighbourhoods without relying on law enforcement and lock-ups, preventing system contact, and pulling people out of the system. They use direct action organising, advocacy, political education, and activist arts to agitate, expose, and pressure the people in charge in order to upset power and bring about change.
The Trevor Project
Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organisation providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.