Posted in Music

Punisher (Phoebe Bridgers) Album Review

Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher (2020, Vinyl) | Discogs

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ll dispense from my normal greeting, as this isn’t a bookish post…

I discovered Phoebe Bridgers late last year. “Smoke Signals” was the first of her songs to capture my imagination, and it prompted me to listen to her debut album, Stranger in the Alps. Though it wasn’t without its flaws, it was gorgeously lyrical and haunting at times. So naturally, I was excited to find out that she was releasing a new album. And she released it A DAY EARLIER! It’s been about a week since its release, now, and now I can say with certainty that her sophomore album, Punisher, is a worthy predecessor that may even surpass some of her older material.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Phoebe Bridgers Wants to Believe - The New York Times

ALBUM REVIEW: PUNISHER–PHOEBE BRIDGERS

TRACK 1: “DVD Menu”–7/10

A strange and haunting instrumental prelude to the album. Woozy, with almost a fever-dream vibe, it’s almost foreshadowing for what’s to come.

TRACK 2: “Garden Song”–7/10

This was the first single to be released out of the whole album. When I first listened to it, something about it got under my skin, but as I’ve listened to it more, something about it has grown on me (no pun intended). A nostalgic, dreamlike opener to the album.

TRACK 3: “Kyoto”–9/10

One of my favorite songs off of the album! This is the perfect song for rolling your windows down in the middle of the road. Bridger’s already stunning voice never fails to give me chills in the chorus. Phenomenal.

TRACK 4: “Punisher”–9/10

Bridgers said in an interview that the album’s title track was about being a huge fan of Elliott Smith. Though I’ve barely listened to his music, everyone from Becky Albertalli to David Arnold have sung his praise. But even if you aren’t familiar with the song, you’re sure to be familiar with the feeling it evokes–that of worshipping somebody that you’ve never met, and people associating you with them. Phoebe Bridgers never fails to be able to connect to her listeners.

What if I told you

I feel like I know you?

But we never met…

TRACK 5: “Halloween”–6.5/10

Though most of Bridgers’ catalog is already more melancholy and mellow, this fails to keep up the pace kept up by “Kyoto” and “Punisher”. It’s still a decent song, but it doesn’t pack as much of an emotional punch as some of the other tracks on the album.

TRACK 6: “Chinese Satellite”–8/10

Picking up from the slight lull of “Halloween,” this track delves back into Bridgers’ signature, heart-wrenching lyricism, weaving a tale of losing yourself and wishing on false stars. Absolutely beautiful.

TRACK 7: “Moon Song”–7.5/10

A soft, drifting track that dives more into Bridgers’ more dreamlike side. A song that could simultaneously rock me to sleep and bring me close to tears, if the mood struck me.

And if I could give you the moon,

I would give you the moon…

TRACK 8: “Savior Complex”–9/10

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of this album. With lyrics that stick and a melancholy melody, this is Phoebe Bridgers at her best. Again, her voice just gives me cHILLS…

TRACK 9: “ICU” (previously titled “I See You“)–7.5/10

(SCREAMING)

A catchy track that leans more into Bridgers’ poppier side. Though it teeters on going into the places that I thought “Garden Song” went when I first listened to it, it’s still a good song; not her best, but not her worst by far.

TRACK 10: “Graceland Too”–7.5/10

First of all, shoutout to Phoebe Bridgers for putting a banjo in a song that doesn’t instantly infuriate me.

With folkier instrumentation, “Graceland Too” weaves a beautiful, melancholy tale of newfound freedom and self-discovery.

So she picks a direction, it’s 90 to Memphis,

Turns up the music so thoughts don’t intrude,

Predictably winds up thinking of Elvis

And wonders if he believed songs could come true…

TRACK 11: “I Know the End”–9.5/10

A positively stunning end to the album. Laced with Bridgers’ signature lyricism, she quickly amps up the emotion, growing tense before erupting into chaotic instrumentation. The album ends with the sound of her raw screams and breathing as she seems to recover, somehow making it feel powerful and intimate all at once. The best possible song to end the album on.

Over the coast, everyone’s convinced

It’s a government drone, or an alien spaceship,

Either way

We’re not alone…

Phoebe Bridgers – 'Punisher' album review

I averaged out all of my song ratings, and it came out at about a 7.9, which I’ll round up to 8. Punisher was, without a doubt, a worthy successor to Stranger in the Alps. Phoebe Bridgers has outdone herself on her sophomore album, creating something magical with her lyricism and dreamlike melodies. In short, Punisher is very nearly a masterpiece, and Phoebe Bridgers is an artist to be reckoned with.

The Big Listen: Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher | Guitar.com | All ...

Since this post is an album review, you can consider this whole album today’s song.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! HAVE YOU LISTENED TO PUNISHER, AND IF SO, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Making a Door Less Open (Car Seat Headrest) Album Review

Making a Door Less Open | Car Seat Headrest

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while know how much I love Car Seat Headrest. Ever since…oh, maybe 7th grade (?), their songs have never failed to enchant me and pull me in. So naturally, I was absolutely over-the-moon when I found out that they were releasing a new album in the form of Making a Door Less Open. After a few listens, however, I’m not quite disappointed, but I think I set my expectations too high. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a decent album, but I think they released all the good singles first.

Anyway, let’s get on with the review, shall we?

WILL TOLEDO <3.gif

TRACK 1: “Weightlifters”–8.5/10

WOW. 

Now that is what I can an AMAZING start to an album. With the slow-burn effects, combined with Will Toledo’s signature, introspective lyrics, this is an absolute stunner of a first track. Probably my favorite of the songs that weren’t released as singles beforehand.

TRACK 2: “Can’t Cool Me Down”–10/10

This was the first single that was released, back in…March, I believe. A vastly new direction for Car Seat Headrest, but one that I enjoy thoroughly. Well-written and eternally catchy. Definitely the highlight of the album for me.

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TRACK 3: “Deadlines (Hostile)”–8/10

This feels like something straight off of Teens of Denial, and if we’re talking about that album, it’s always a compliment. Lyrically poignant and musically pleasing, this one 100% contributes to the album’s strong start.

TRACK 4: “Hollywood”–8.5/10

Here we veer into a briefly punchy and screamy direction for CSH, and it’s in no way a bad thing. I’m interested to see that Andrew Katz (drummer & producer of this album, correct me if I’m wrong on the latter) is starting to contribute vocals, and though I didn’t care for it as much at first, but it meshes well with the overall feel with the song

IT’S KINDA GROOVY

TRACK 5: “Hymn (Remix)”–5/10 

Eh…this is where the album starts to go downhill for me. It’s like they were trying to go more in the synthy direction of “Can’t Cool Me Down,” but it…didn’t work. Not much in the lyrics department, and a wholly unnecessary slathering of autotune and weirdness that ultimately sullies Will Toledo’s gorgeous voice.

God, I know I sound snooty, but personally, this is the worst song on the album…

TRACK 6: “Martin”–8.5/10

(First off, thank you to Will Toledo/Trait for retaining clean habits during these uncertain times…)

Such a sweet love song, with Toledo’s signature, beautiful lyrics. Catchy and unusually bright, considering most of the subject matter of…a good 75% of the rest of their discography.

TRACK 7: “Deadlines (Thoughtful)”–7.5/10

I feel like this is the weaker of the two “Deadlines,” but that’s not to say that I don’t like it. Though some of the effects don’t bug me, the a capella ending (starting at about 5:37) really manages to tug at my heartstrings.

TRACK 8: “What’s With You Lately”–7.5/10

Short and sweet just as depressing as you’d expect any CSH song to be. A tender meditation on creativity and seeing other people imitate your work. Also, we haven’t really heard Ethan Ives (guitar) contribute any other vocals other than backing vocals, so it’s cool to see him doing lead vocals on a song.

TRACK 9: “Life Worth Missing”–7/10

Certainly a decent song, and wonderful lyrically, but musically, it’s bordering on…spineless? With a song like this, it kind of needs punchy guitars throughout, and it almost gets there in the second half, but not quite enough to be potent.

TRACK 10: “There Must Be More Than Blood”–8.5/10

Another strong point on the album, this feels reminiscent of some of their older, longer songs, especially ones like “Famous Prophets (Stars)” and “Cosmic Hero”. Potent and tender, this one’s definitely one of the more memorable songs off of this album.

TRACK 11: “Famous”–6/10

Afer such a beautiful song as “There Must Be More Than Blood,” “Famous” feels like a letdown of an album closing. If not for the effects layered on the vocals, I probably would have liked it a lot better–the lyrics are incredible, but they almost get lost in all the discordant autotune layered over them. Eh.

Car Seat Headrest — Radio 1190

I averaged out all of the song ratings, and it narrowed down to about a 7.7/10. I’d say that’s accurate–it’s certainly not a bad album, but it’s not nearly as mind-blowingly good as Teens of Denial or Twin Fantasy (Face to Face). There’s certainly a multitude of strong points (“Can’t Cool Me Down,” etc.), but the more mediocre tracks only serve to weight it down. A daring exploration into a new kind of sound for Car Seat Headrest, but one that had its highs and lows.

Since this post was an album review, you can…pretty much just consider the whole album for “Today’s song”.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Music

color theory (Soccer Mommy) Album Review

Image result for color theory soccer mommy

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I was introduced to Soccer Mommy via the car radio around a year ago, and I’ve been hooked on her music ever since. From listening to all of Clean to seeing her open for Vampire Weekend in October (!!!), Sophie Allison has always had such a signature sound that, no matter the subject matter, strikes a chord with me (no pun intended)–not quite in the lyrics as much, but most definitely in her masterful guitar work. color theory was just as good–if not better–than its predecessor, diving even deeper and finding beauty in vulnerability and grief.

Alright, let’s get this review started…

Track 1: “bloodstream”–7/10

Though not as emotionally potent as some of the other album’s tracks, “bloodstream” combines catchy, indie-pop riffs with lyrics yearning for the innocence of the past as Allison struggles to grapple with her present. The video’s pretty weird, but it definitely fits with the aesthetic that all of the album art/merch has been trying to go for. Not bad!

 

Track 2: “circle the drain”–8/10

What began with “bloodstream” has been effectively elevated to the next level. Allison is the master of the deceptively upbeat song; these lyrics, along with much of the rest of the album, deal with struggling with mental illness and grief. And yet, without listening to the lyrics, those two things wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Absolutely catchy and lyrically potent.

 

Track 3: “royal screw up”–7.5/10

I’m not gonna lie here: the up-front metaphor of being the “princess of screw-ups” is a bit cheesy for me, personally. But sometimes, these things are necessary to get your point across after you dive into the more complex songs on the album. Aside from that, Allison’s bare guitar work shines on this track. And it’s an earworm in the best way possible. Mission accomplished.

Track 4: “night swimming”–9/10

Without a doubt, one of the best songs on the album, and a unique piece in the grand scheme of Allison’s work. Atmospheric, ethereal, and dreamlike, I feel as though I’ve been transported to a secluded lake illuminated by moonlight every time I listen to this song. Gorgeous in every sense of the word.

 

Track 5: “crawling in my skin”–9/10

Reminiscent of the punchy riffs of Clean, this one’s another favorite of mine. After the beauty of “night swimming”, “crawling in my skin” feels more refined, more thought out than tracks like “bloodstream” and “royal screw up”. Even if you’ve never felt this way, it perfectly portrays the feeling of being trapped in your own mind, and the fear of being left to your own devices at the wrong time.

My only complaint is that it always makes me think of this…

 

Track 6: “yellow is the color of her eyes”–9.5/10

Though it was one of the early releases, “yellow is the color of her eyes” still holds up for me as the most masterful song on the album. An emotional, 7-minute ballad of grieving, this is where the album reaches the height of its emotional potency, deftly balancing prose with up-front expressions of grief and emotional collapse. What a masterpiece.

 

Track 7: “up the walls”–7/10 

Though it’s just as lyrically potent as most of the album, and certainly very catchy, “up the walls” feels as though there’s something missing. The instrumentation sounds purposefully bare, but it doesn’t work quite as well as “royal screw up”. But nonetheless, the slight discordance is, in its own way, a testament to the feeling of falling apart.

Also, I’ll keep telling myself that the title/first line is a reference to this…

I mean, there’s a veeeeeery slim chance that it is, but I’ll just go back to my fantasy world now.

You fools, you didn’t think that you could escape this post without a Radiohead reference? [maniacal laughter]

 

Track 8: “lucy”–8/10

This one was the first single to arrive, out of the four that came out before color theory was released in its entirety. When it first came out, I wasn’t keen to it–I’m not sure what it was, but something just…put me off. But after a few more listens (and seeing her perform it live), I’m definitely hooked.

When I saw her live, she said that this was “a song about the devil,” and I’ve just now figured out that Lucy might be a pun on Lucifer…

…aaaaaaand now I hate myself for not catching that earlier.

But either way you interpret it, “lucy” is wonderfully catchy and the slightest bit discordant.

 

Track 9: “stain”–8.5/10

With every somber note, “stain” is the feeling of crumbling at the foundations set to music. Haunting and potent, Allison boasts another example of how a few lines of music can alter your mood for the rest of the day. I can’t decide whether I’m in awe or whether I want to go into my room and cry.

 

Track 10: “gray light”–6/10

Though the lyrics are almost as potent as “yellow is the color of her eyes” and “stain”, “gray light” feels unfinished: decent, but a mishmash of different effects overshadowing the haunting lyrics. Kind of a disappointing ending to the album, but it didn’t ruin it, not by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I averaged all of the ratings, and it came out to a solid 7.95, so I’ll just round it up to an 8/10 overall. Just as luscious and potent as Clean, color theory is a musical exploration of grief that should not and will not be forgotten. Long live Sophie Allison. 💗

 

I’ll omit a song for today because…well…this entire post is a “Today’s song”…

 

That just about wraps up this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves! (And listen to/stream/buy color theory while you’re at it!)

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