We've already had Sinatra's Strangers in the Night now US singer songwriter Phoebe Bridgers brings us Strangers in the Alps. This is her first record for Dead Oceans following on from a 7" on Ryan Adams label Pax Am and has also been on the advert for the I Phone singing 'Gigantic' by the Pixies.
- LP £18.49
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- DOC142LP-C1 / Limited indies only coloured vinyl LP on Dead Oceans
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This one’s perfect right now: good for grumpy mornings that elicit zero good feelings, good for cold quiet walks to cold quiet work, even good for when it gets dark way too early for a social life to feel like a viable thing. Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘Stranger in the Alps’ is my favourite discovery of the autumn-winter border crossing, a record of country rock aesthetics made with pop-punk calling cards for maximum emotional devastation.
Also, it’s pretty dark: heartbreak factors in, but so do unexpected deaths, ambiguous crimes and bouts of depression, each working their way into the corners of these melodic songs. The record’s best song, “Would You Rather”, sees Bridgers duet with that gosh darned Conor Oberst over beautifully sliding guitars, the two detailing tales stories that come across as crushingly personal and difficult to even listen in on. It’s handled wonderfully, never feeling crass or callous within the walls of these gorgeously crafted songs. Elsewhere, the record has time to be funny, even from within its crystalline, earnest sound: Bridgers’ writes lines like “Why do you sing with an English accent?” in a slow moment and asks “How’s playing drums?” to an ex at the exact same time hers come in.
Calling it just a country folk record would be underselling it -- the crunchy, distorted twang of “Motion Sickness” makes me feel like it is, but the production on this record is vast and peculiar, offering ringing effects and bells and whistles that give the record over-your-shoulder flourishes, making you feel like it’s happening around you as much as it is just for you. Bridgers’ instrumentation, too, spans far and wide enough for this to become one of the most versatile songwriter records of the year -- you won’t remember the symphonic swings and the melodic buffering, because you’ll be too busy sinking into its sadness -- but it's true. Just in time to be one of my albums of the year.
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