Phoebe Bridgers, equipped with her haunting voice, vulnerable lyrics and heart-wrenching melodies, has entered the music scene as a fresh and unstoppable force of purely captivating talent, and she’s only just getting started.
Bridgers released an EP “Killer” in 2015 and quickly secured a place of respect as she emerged as a developed artist onto the LA music scene which she had grown up surrounded by, and was even dubbed the female Elliott Smith by critics and fans alike.
Bridgers released her debut full-length album “Stranger in the Alps” in September 2017. A little over a year later, Bridgers swiftly created “boygenius,” a musical supergroup with fellow artists Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, releasing their self-titled album in October 2018.
I was writing this piece when Bridgers announced that she, along with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, had formed the band “Better Oblivion Community Center,” releasing a surprise self-titled album. Her audience continues to grow, with Better Oblivion Community Center selling out the music venue The Sinclair in Cambridge, Massachusetts in under 15 minutes.
It’s rare to encounter an artist devoted to fully immersing themselves in their art, and Bridgers clearly has allowed herself to become consumed with every project she undertakes; you can hear her unmistakable presence in each moment of every track she creates.
“Stranger in The Alps” itself is a delicate balance of catchy hooks with dizzyingly sad lyrics. Bridgers pours herself into the songs, whispering to the listener as if we were having a conversation with her. With that, some songs feel almost unfinished in comparison to the perfectly balanced songwriting and production of gorgeously melancholy tracks such as “Smoke Signals,” “Funeral” and “Motion Sickness.”
Her lyrics draw you into her world, both shockingly intimate and incredibly straightforward, as if she’s telling stories that she’s never spoken out loud before.
“Funeral” comes in with a large swell of heavy guitars, paired with her sweet voice whispering to the listener, “I’m singing at a funeral tomorrow for a kid a year older than me, and I’ve been talking to his dad and it makes me so sad, when I think too much about it, I can’t breathe.”
“Motion Sickness” hooks the listener with its juxtaposed lyrical-rawness and dance-worthy production, with a chorus featuring Bridgers crying “I have emotional motion sickness, somebody roll the windows down.”
Bridgers appears to be immune to whatever creative void most artists can’t help but fall victim to after releasing a piece of work as emotion-ally tolling as “Stranger in the Alps” feels.
Clearly feeling no confinement to the limits of remaining a solo act, Bridgers quickly went on to release boygenius’s self-titled EP with fellow musicians Baker and Dacus. Bridgers along with Baker and Dacus, who each respectively have their own careers, albums and NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, collaborated to create a collection of harmony heavy, lyrically exposed and devastatingly visceral tracks.
On Better Oblivion Community Center’s self-titled LP Bridgers and Oberst are effortlessly cohesive, sounding more like one unison vocal presence than a duet. With an eclectic mix of synth pop, depressingly insightful lyrics and songs that delve into the experience of alienation in an increasingly desensitized society, the album feels stylistically unique yet comfortably familiar for fans of both Bridgers and Oberst.
In an endless sea of new folk music, it is the all-encompassing atmosphere which Bridgers’ songs contain that makes her so distinctive-ly captivating to listen to. She has the ability to create such an aura to her songs, that even in covers, such as her version of “Friday, I’m in Love” on a Spotify Session, or “You Missed My Heart,” a cover by artist Mark Kozelek under Sun Kil Moon, the addition of her harmonizing “ooo”s create a reverberating background that add even more depth to the gentle and eerie sadness that exudes from her voice.
You can truly recognize a Phoebe Bridgers song anywhere.
With a current Instagram caption that reads “the artist currently known as phoebe bridgers,” Phoebe Bridgers reminds everyone that even if the mesmerizing honesty of her music makes you feel like her closest friend, she has no promises of remaining in a box.