Phoebe Bridgers: The greatest new artist on the scene.
I've been quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) obsessing over Phoebe Bridgers debut album, 'Stranger in the Alps' since the tail end of 2017. It was a slow burner for me, no doubt. I foolishly rated, Mr Jukes' album, God First, as my album of 2017 (still a phenomenal album, don't get me wrong!) but if we go by streams and plays by me alone, I was really off the mark!
I heard, Stranger in the Alps, late last year and I genuinely really liked it, but I did not appear to have this instant, deep rooted affection for it.
But then something strange happened.
From just that first listen, I began to wake up daily with part of a song in my head, something that hasn't happened since I was blasting my ears with, The Beatles, as an 11 year old. Sometimes I'd wake to have the opening lyrics to the starkly beautiful track 'Funeral' ricocheting around my bonce. And at other times I'd have 'Smoke Signals' or the delightful 'Motion Sickness' vying for my brains attention.
Frankly, it was quite weird.
However, I buckled on every occasion and gave my brain box over to Phoebe and her songs - And every day, I fell deeper and deeper in love with everything to do with the album, much like a (decent) arranged marriage, where they discover more and more that they actually like about each other - all though this was a bit more one sided I'd say, but who gives a fuck?!
And so now, as we approach Spring (I know it is hard to believe that we are approaching Spring, what with The Beast from the East hitting London and it being colder than a Polar Bears bollocks, but chronologically we are actually coming into Spring, so work with me here!) I am still listening to the album on a daily basis. I am seeking out other versions and performances on YouTube and I have tickets to go see her at the Islington Assembly Hall in May, which will no doubt see me 'getting the t-shirt' too!
I'm slightly excited about it, you see.
DISCLAIMER: If you happen to be reading this, Phoebe, I'm not going to go all Mark Chapman at the gig...I'll probably just piss myself and then faint like a Paul McCartney fan at a Beatles gig in 1964 - So just let a man live for christ sake!
Anyhoooooo...this album has become as important as those first records I heard as a wee boy, which is such a rare thing that I am buzzing my Jacobs off about it! It has already made it into the list of my most influential records (yeah, really!) and so I felt that I needed to share it with you by picking out five of my favourite tunes.
Just so you know, this has been a fucking nightmare as I absolutely love them all. You're welcome!
"Why would I want to depress myself listening to a song about death and funerals, Mark?", I hear you say. Well, firstly, breaking news: you're going to fucking die. Yep, you! Sometime, some place, you'll turn into worm food, so why hide away from that fact?
Other than that, the song is cripplingly beautiful. Beginning with some harsh, rasping, electric guitar feedback, the lightness of the acoustic guitar comes in and we float on Bridgers vocals, listening to every word she chirps as she expresses her depression whilst simultaneously feeling bad that there are others worse off. It's an incredible piece of music and story telling.
This tune and, Chelsea, (later on in the album) actually really remind me of Ryan Adams, - who incidentally is a big champion of Bridgers and even put a single out on his label.
This is a simple acoustic tune, that slowly builds towards the end but is essentially driven by Bridgers beautiful voice and incredible story telling. At this point I should also give kudos to her Producers, Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska, because sonically they have created a masterpiece from a, 'less is more' style of production. It is heavenly to say the least.
The opening track of the album, Smoke Signals, sets the tone for how this album will be - stark, beautiful and poignant. What I find incredible about this song is how vulnerable it is whilst also having an undeniable tension to it that is teased out slowly by the vocals and the guitars. A mind spinningly superb song.
You Missed My Heart
Oh dear God! This track is SO FRIGGIN' GOOD! Firstly, the sentiment of the lyric 'You missed my heart' is extraordinary and the way in which this is weaved into a story of murder, imprisonment and death belies the youthful 23 years of the author. I love this song so much that frankly you just need to listen to it, because my words will pail in comparison to the real deal.
I thought to end my picks on the song, Motion Sickness, which is second on the album and is pretty different to the rest of the songs. It feels a little like a Haim track and has a full band behind it - It's essentially the 'rock' track on the album.
It's a great single for sure and it strangely seems to work perfectly amongst the more subdue and sparse songs. I sense that this kind of vibe might have been the way in which Bridgers might have headed had she not worked with Berg and Gruska, but then I base that on nothing at all except blind fucking nonsense that I often spout and pontificate on! Still, it's a nice track to end on so get your knives and forks ready and dig in! Nothing here goes to waste
Like I say, this album is an absolute gem and I can not impress on you enough to check it out, although after listening to these five tracks I am sure you are already converted anyway!
Let me know what you think of the album in the comments below.
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