Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers incorporates both thematic songwriting and a diversity of sound
September 20, 2020
Emotional, thematic, and artful are all words that can be used to describe Punisher: Phoebe Bridgers’
second studio album. It was released on June 18, 2020 and was highly anticipated. This alternative folk
album showcases Bridgers’ talent in both her singing and songwriting.
Since releasing her first album back in 2017, Bridgers has spent the last three years building her
reputation by working on separate projects with various artists. This includes Better Oblivion
Community Center with Omaha native, Conor Oberst. She has been working on her newest album over
the past five years with the help of Oberst, and although he helped create some of the tracks, the album
is purely her vision.
Punisher incorporates all her recent projects and her development as a musician into one album. When
asked about the theme and sound of her new album on an interview with NPR, Bridgers states, “I think
I’m just discovering how to reference a hundred things at once that I’ve always loved, like genre-wise
just leaning in really hard and making intense references to other music,” she continued, “There’s
nothing avant-garde about it: it’s a singer-songwriter record, even though there’s kind of a metal
section. I think I’m pulling from a lot of different places, stealing from a lot of different people.”
Punisher’s sound is a perfect mix of the people Bridgers admires and looks up to, but with a flare of her
While the entire album is extremely well done, there are a few tracks which stand out more than others.
The first is “I Know the End.” This track incorporates many different sounds and styles into just five
minutes. The beginning is slow, but it builds into a crescendo of instrumentals and even screaming. The
lyrics are also both haunting and uplifting. This track was made to be listened to with the windows down
and the volume all the way up.
The second track, and the second to be released two months before the album drop, is “Kyoto.” The
beat is catchy, and the chorus will make everyone who listens want to get up and dance. While the beat
and instrumentals are happy and bright, the lyrics themselves are actually about Bridgers and her rocky
relationship with her father. Unlike her first album, Bridgers mentioned that her new record is her way
of graduating from the resentment.
The overall consensus for Punisher from both critics and fans is that Bridgers met every mark she was
expected to. This record is proof that Bridgers will continue to be part of the indie music scene for years
to come. Punisher was a breath of fresh air everyone needed during a dark time.