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Music

The first album Phoebe Bridgers fell in love with

Over the past five years, Phoebe Bridgers has continued to defy gravity in her rise to global acclaim as a singer-songwriter and producer. Following the release of her 2017 debut album Stranger in the Alps, the early rumblings of stardom were consolidated with the catchy and insightful 2020 follow-up studio effort, Punisher. This latest album saw her nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy at the 63rd award ceremony in 2021.

This year, Bridgers has returned with a new single titled ‘Sidelines’. The track is the Californian singer’s recent contribution to the soundtrack of Conversations With Friends, the TV adaption of Sally Rooney’s novel of the same title. The single is a marked change in mood since Bridgers’ latest album, 2020’s Punisher. In a recent interview with Variety, she revealed this was a conscious shift in focus.

Explaining the change in creative mood, Bridgers opined: “I’m striving to do more stuff like that. I think it’s more challenging to sound smart and write well about happiness than it is about sadness. In the interest of not seeming trite, I lean toward darker subject matter, just out of comfort. And I think a challenge to myself, now, is being articulate about things that are good.”

Bridgers’ usual comfort zone of plaintive and sentimental music appears to concur with her early introduction to music as a child. In a 2020 video interview with Rolling Stone, Bridgers revealed that Jeff Buckey’s 1993 EP, Live at Sin-é, was the first record she ever fell in love with. “I had it on my iPod Shuffle, and I listened to it when I was supposed to be asleep every night for years,” she said. “I just love how you can hear in real-time the audience reaction and what’s so compelling about Buckley. And the ‘Hallelujah’ recording is insane. He starts the whole set stomping and clapping – fucking weirdo – but it’s great!”

Elsewhere in the interview, Bridgers remembers singing My Chemical Romance’s ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ at a karaoke night and being frightened to release her 2017 single ‘Motion Sickness’. “I was nervous because it’s a mean song,” she said, “But I’m glad I did it.”

Later, she recounts meeting her Better Oblivion Community Center bandmate, Conor Oberst, for the first time when she opened for his secret show in Los Angeles in 2016. Bridgers closed her set with ‘Motion Sickness’ and Elliot Smith’s ‘Whatever (Folk Song in C)’. Oberst complimented Bridgers on both of the songs, not realising that one of them was a cover. “He’s still embarrassed about it,” she laughed.

Watch Phoebe Bridgers play her cover of Elliot Smith’s ‘Whatever (Folk Song in C)’ in 2018 below.

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