Phoebe Bridgers: ‘Punisher’, Power, and Politics

Phoebe Bridgers is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer from Los Angeles, California. Her music has been described as indie rock/emo folk, often centering around acoustic guitars, whilst incorporating atmospheric strings, production, and electronic instrumentation.

Strong-minded, and independent.

It feels as though Bridgers was always destined for a career in music; as a child, she spent a large part of her time busking in the Pasadena farmers market. Fast forward to 2017, she had released her debut album ‘Stranger in the Alps’, which saw the indie/emo star’s audience begin to grow, but when Bridgers released her album ‘Punisher’… Wow. Phoebe Bridgers had found her desired persona and was really starting to flaunt it.

Sensationally talented.

The Californian superstar has the immense ability to blend complex lyrical themes such as death, depression, and political concerns and undercut it with her dry wit and straightforward delivery. ‘Punisher’ is full of superstitious imagery, which she uses to reveal larger truths about the innate horrors of the world. She depicts UFOs as government drones, lovers described as vampires, and a skinhead neighbour getting buried in a beautiful garden depicting that anywhere in America, it is likely you could be living next to a member of the KKK. It’s vivid for sure, but extremely believable at the same time.

A new appearance.

However, whilst Bridgers may seem to have an incredible imagination, she states that living in her current climate, it would almost be unfair not to tackle such challenging topics: “I think it’s easier for me to write from experience. I’m being really self-deprecating in my writing now — even more so than my last record. There will be some political shit, just because I think about it too much. I’m not trying to write some political anthem but I can’t live in the country that I live in and not be crushed by what’s going on in the world every day.”

The modern-day Punk star.

Bridgers is the epitome of a modern-day punk star. And her involvement in American politics has played a key role in her uprising. In 2019, Phoebe Bridgers and Fiona Apple covered Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 song ‘7 O’Clock News/Silent Night to reflect the events of the opioid epidemic in the United States and the testimony of Mick Mulvaney in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. The cover was released as a result of a settlement that would not force the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, to admit wrongdoing in the deaths of hundreds of thousands related to their opioid products. The song was released with a statement that read: “Happy holidays to everyone whose family has been literally or figuratively torn apart by Donald Trump. And to my racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, hypocritical family members. Fuck you.”

Drinking. Trump’s gone.

Moreover, in 2020, like many others, Phoebe Bridgers was left horrified over the events in Minnesota that saw an innocent black man, George Floyd, murdered by a police officer. In response to this, she expressed her support, and encouraged donations to racial justice charities through her website, and called for the abolition of the police during the riots that followed George Floyd’s death. Meanwhile, as promised, once Trump was voted out of office, Bridgers and Maggie Rogers released their cover of ‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls to raise money for Stacey Abram’s Fair Fight Action. An initiative that was set up by Abrams, to encourage as many Americans as possible to turn up and cast their vote in the election.

Dreaming of change.

Phoebe Bridgers’ album ‘Punisher’ centers around being lost and alone the whole time. However, through her incredible writing style, and ability to convey such powerful messages through her music, it appears that she is still very much present in the modern-day, and the events that are occurring around her. The Californian’s career is still in the relatively early stages, but the way in which she conducts herself, alongside her sense of morality, you would expect her to rise even further to the top.

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I write about music, amongst other things. Hope you enjoy.

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Ben Broyd

Ben Broyd

I write about music, amongst other things. Hope you enjoy.

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