A black cat is wandering around Los Angeles, and it’s currently right behind Phoebe Bridgers’ computer screen. She’s talking to NME on a video call from her home in lockdown, and her attention wavers for just a second. “Oh no! The kitty is killing something,” she says. “Still so precious, though.”
Superstition is woven throughout Bridgers’ music: dreams, ghosts, the apocalypse and astrology. This black cat is perhaps a sign of luck (or a lack thereof), a symbol of lethal energy. For it to be as physically present as possible over a virtual interview feels like a pretty literal metaphor for Bridgers’ simultaneously belligerent and heartbreaking work and life over the past few years.
Phoebe Bridgers is about to release her second solo album, ‘Punisher’, a record filled with contradictions – violence and tenderness, romance and fear – and with a sound more brazen and forthright than that of her previous work. Where her debut, 2017’s ‘Stranger In The Alps’, offered wise folk songs and gentle melodies, this album favours earthier, often grungier sounds. The drums crash louder and she screams more than she whispers. At one point, on the energetic ‘Kyoto’, she warns one famous target (more on them later): “I’m gonna kill you / I don’t forgive you.”
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