Indie singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers came out with her sophomore album, Punisher, on Thursday, June 18. Originally, the album was due to come out on June 19, which was also the holiday Juneteenth. Bridgers tweeted on Thursday that she’d instead decided to release the album a day earlier in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Before the release of the album, Bridgers had been sharing singles one by one, which included “Garden Song,” “Kyoto,” and “ICU.” The album opens with a minute and a half-long instrumental introduction, “DVD Menu,” and the songs “Garden Song” and “Kyoto” follow. The title track, “Punisher,” is a slower song, and Bridger’s lyricism in this song and throughout the album as a whole is incredible. Many of Bridger’s lyrics have the ability to tell stories that completely suck the listener in.
The song “Halloween” features dark and haunting guitar and lyrics like:
“I hate living by the hospital / The sirens go all night / I used to joke that if they woke you up / Somebody better be dying.” The next three songs that follow are, as many Phoebe Bridgers listeners have come to expect, sad. In “Chinese Satellite,” “Moon Song,” and “Savior Complex,” Bridgers shares her life wishes, inner thoughts, and the struggles in her relationship.
You were screamin’ at the Evangelicals-“Chinese Satellite,” Phoebe Bridgers
They were screamin’ right back from what I remember
When you said I will never be your vegetable
Because I think when you’re gone, it’s forever
But you know I’d stand on the corner
Embarrassed with a picket sign
If it meant I would see you when I die
The song “Graceland Too” is a stand out on the album for many reasons. Lyrically, Bridgers tells the story of a girl going on a spontaneous solo road trip to Graceland, as she ponders Elvis and songwriting. In this song, Bridgers is also vocally accompanied by singers Lucy Dacaus and Julien Baker, who as a trio, make up the group Boygenius. “Graceland Too” also pushes genres for Bridgers, as this song heavily features fiddles and banjos, leading to a very folk/bluegrass sound.
The album closes with “I Know The End,” a dark, dystopian theme to the apocalypse, which has a complete change in melody halfway through, as the song becomes instrumental with screams heard in the distance, as Bridgers warns the end of the album, and possibly the end of all humanity with lyrics like: “The billboard said ‘The End Is Near’ / I turned around, there was nothing there / Yeah, I guess the end is here.”