When we spoke with Phoebe Bridgers a few weeks ago, the pandemic was only just hitting its stride, with self-isolation in full effect, and universal dread and confusion dominating our every waking second. It was a claustrophobic time, and thematically, her second solo record, Punisher, arrives with eerily prophetic imagery of isolation, social anxiety, apocalypse, and social unrest, yet it’s far from a protest record.
Bridgers’ songs elude social commentary, and feel contained to a poetic personal narrative whose focus falls somewhere between observation and confession. While at times mournful, Bridgers’ songs are never overwhelmed by their own gloom. Her isolation is a self-imposed source of comfort, and while she sings from sidelines, they’re well populated by ghosts.
One can’t help but assume Punisher will remain linked in the minds of its listeners to the COVID era surrounding its release. It’s not the first time, however, that Bridgers has had to navigate a record release around troubling external circumstances. Her first album, 2017’s Stranger In The Alps was launched amidst her participation in calling out Ryan Adams, who had used his position as an established musician to control younger women in the industry.
Despite the foreboding conversation the album may unwittingly contribute to, Bridgers’s songs have a distinctly “shit happens” quality to them. The songs are funny, smart, and filled with millennial wisdom and clarity, like a breath of fresh air from the confines of a bedroom.
Amidst the weirdness, we chatted with Bridgers about reluctant yoga, astrology, woke rockers and, oh yeah, her incredible new record.
Read the full Q&A after the jump!