Album Review: Phoebe Bridgers – “Stranger in the Alps” 

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This is an album that I’ve been waiting to hear for so long. I first listened to Phoebe Bridgers in 2015 when her EP, Killer was released and I was hooked right away. When this album was announced I was very excited to hear more of her stuff. This is Phoebe Bridgers debut album, it’s called Stranger In The Alps and it’s out on September 22nd via Dead Oceans. Bridgers is heavily influenced by musicians like Elliot Smith, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell to name a few. You can hear those influences throughout the album.

Stranger In The Alps consists of 11 songs from start to finish. The album begins with the first single to be released, “Smoke Signals”. One of the longer tracks on the album, “Smoke Signals” is a slow tune with a heavy bass line in parts of the song. It was written in a cabin in Idaho, which you hear about in the track. It’s filled with references to famous musicians and popular songs such as David Bowie and “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths. “Motion Sickness” is up next and it picks up the tempo a little bit with the use of fuzzy guitars and drums. The main focus is a problematic relationship from Bridgers past.

My favorite on the album is called “Funeral”. It’s the third track on the album and it’s pretty sad. It begins with a fade in and then an acoustic guitar comes in and it has a folky feel to it. The track talks about singing at a friends funeral and then it gets a little personal. Bridgers goes on to sing “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time and that’s just how I feel”. Touching on personal emotion is important in music because it gives listeners something to connect with. I think this track does that perfectly and that’s why I like it so much.

A little later on in the album are two songs that were originally on Killer, which are called “Killer” and “Georgia”. Both of the them have been re-done, “Killer” has been stripped down to piano and vocals. The most surprising element of the song is that John Doe of X is singing with Bridgers. But the two of them work really well together. “Georgia” features a lot of different elements that weren’t heard in the original. It’s also the most unique song on the album with different percussion and string elements added in. You can hear the power behind Bridgers vocals really well in this song because of the long notes held out during the chorus.

When you get toward the end of the album you should pay attention to “Would You Rather”. The song features Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes singing solo and with Phoebe throughout the song. Oberst is know for his very distinct sounding voice and him and Bridgers sound amazing together. The last full track is a cover of “You Missed My Heart” originally by Mark Kozelek. It’s very simple sounding with only piano and vocals featured in the song along with some heavily layered harmonies. There’s a short reprise of “Smoke Signals” as the official last track and then the album ends.

All in all, I’m very impressed by Pheobe’s songwriting and that amount of talent she has shown in this album. She has taken each track and given it small elements that make them each unique. Phoebe Bridgers is a songwriter that you should be keeping an eye on.

Post by Madeline Cronin

What are your thoughts on this release? Comment below.

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