With a voice as gentle as a warm embrace at the end of a long day, Phoebe Bridgers graciously welcomes listeners into every song before socking them right in the face with angsty, desolate, unfortunately relatable lyrics. Her vocals promise comfort, but her words, and her gorgeous storytelling, promise despondency — and it won’t take long until you find yourself depending on it.
Bridgers is just two LPs in and already turning heads, showcasing such a severe form of vulnerability that’s so rarely exposed and so commendable. Though she’s most recognized for her haunting harmonies on the remix of Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met,” she has her own sadness to share that’s so painstakingly real. She’ll forge a connection with you, and you’ll feel like friends sharing secrets, even without meeting her.
Bridgers will undoubtedly continue her excellence, but it’s important to recognize the otherworldly experiences she’s already given us now. She’s also making waves with her two other bands — boygenius, a supergroup of her, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, and Better Oblivion Community Center with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst — but this ranking will only include her solo material. Here is a definitive ranking of every Phoebe Bridgers song:
27. “Smoke Signals (Reprise)” (Stranger in the Alps)
It’s a 33-second closer that’s equally as beautiful as it is haunting, but it is just humming after all. It’s definitely something to turn on when you need to decompress, though.
26. “Halloween” (Punisher)
Bridgers is trying to persuade her significant other to partake in the Halloween festivities — because, for one night, they can hide their problems and not have to be themselves. The production is just a little too subdued, but, even so, chills will inevitably make their way by the end of the first verse.
25. “DVD Menu” (Punisher)
There’s no way to describe this instrumental other than “inexplicably beautiful.” The strings are subtle yet so sinister, so intriguing, so infectious.
24. “I See You” (Punisher)
After enduring a breakup with her drummer, Marshall Vore, Bridgers is trying to recover but struggling, though she knows they’ll still be friends forever. We can all agree the line “’Cause I don’t know what I want until I f--- it up” is the biggest mood of all time too.
23. “Wilt” (single)
Though you can’t find a studio version of “Wilt” anywhere, Bridgers’ live performance of it is sublime. Bridgers know she is the exact opposite of what her significant other needs, yet she can’t help but fall for them. Her crisp vocals are backed only by a soft acoustic guitar and light tapping on the drums, but it doesn’t need anything more anyway.
22. “You Missed My Heart” (Stranger in the Alps)
Bridgers makes this so much her own you most likely wouldn’t know it’s technically a cover of Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle’s 2013 track until you research it. Bridgers is spending her last moments reminiscing on what could’ve been, thinking about the times she took advantage of everything and wondering what she’ll miss out on. The piano is gorgeous and accentuates Bridgers’ vocals and her soul-stirring harmonies.
21. “Chelsea” (Stranger in the Alps)
While the second verse would be a perfect fit for a lullaby, the remainder touches on a murder. Bridgers’ vocals are as delicate and honeyed as ever, but the message of Nancy Spungen, who was killed in the ’70s, saying goodbye to her killer is eerie and resounding. Light keys and a toned-down guitar guide Bridgers and the listener into a serene universe.
20. “It’ll All Work Out (Bonus Track)” (Stranger in the Alps)
We all know this is Tom Petty’s masterpiece, but Bridgers makes her cover, with a downcast guitar leading the way, work so well. Bridgers and her partner have now split due to her making poor choices, but that’s life, and she’s trying to remind herself she’ll be OK. If you think the way she says “It’ll all work out” isn’t the most reassuring thing in the world, you’re wrong.
19. “Wasted” (single)
If you couldn’t tell from the title, “Wasted” is about getting inebriated. This is another live-only track with an acoustic guitar and drums in which Bridgers compares wasting her life to the feeling of being actually wasted. The emotion is evident from her first breath.
18.“Would You Rather” (Stranger in the Alps)
Joined by Oberst, whose rasp bounces perfectly off her soft vocals, Bridgers uses “Would You Rather” to address sensitive topics, including domestic abuse, and how her brother was accused of setting their childhood home on fire. The strings are the most noticeable and most beautiful instrument in the track, but the production is faultless all-around.
17. “Chinese Satellite” (Punisher)
Bridgers, like a lot of people who are nonreligious, just wants a sign that there is more after we die. She would risk anything, though, to spend forever with her loved ones or, as she more eloquently puts it: “But you know I’d stand on the corner, embarrassed with a picket sign / If it meant I would see you when I die.” The strings are sporadically but perfectly placed, and the drums and guitar give Bridgers’ vocals that extra punch.
16. “Demi Moore” (Stranger in the Alps)
Bridgers misses the feeling of her partner beside her. She takes the first line to ask for nudes — but, really, she just misses their presence and doesn’t care about the contents of the photo. The enticing pedal steel guitar steals the show.
15. “Georgia” (Stranger in the Alps)
Bridgers keeps asking her partner question after question, seeking validation and reassurance that she’s worthy of being loved. Mood. The strings alongside Bridgers’ lengthy notes in the final run through of the chorus are mesmerizing.
14. “Killer” (Stranger in the Alps)
There’s a prolonged version of this that combines Noah and Abby Gunderson’s “The Sound” that’s even better, but the original is still magical. Bridgers is severely lonely, and she feels as though no one will ever stick around, provoking menacing thoughts. She knows she can’t force anyone to stay, though, so she will just continue to be sad. It’s stripped to solely keys, and it’s incredible.
13. “Graceland Too” (Punisher)
Suddenly, country music doesn’t seem too bad. Bridgers is singing, alongside Baker and Dacus, how she’ll always be there to support her fellow members of boygenius, especially when they’re down and need her most. When they all harmonize together in the outro, prepare to ascend.
12. “Punisher” (Punisher)
We all have a musician we depend highly on, someone who gets us through the rough patches, someone who makes us feel like no other. It’s sometimes strange to think there are renowned artists who look to fellow artists for solace, and for Bridgers, that person is Elliott Smith. “Punisher” is her ode to him and how he completes her. Bridgers’ vocals against that melancholy piano are everything.
11. “Waiting Room” (single)
Bridgers knows she would do anything for the person she’s falling for, but she also knows it’s better if she refrains from going for it because of how unhealthy that is. The last line is repeated more times than can be counted, but it’s persuasive enough and gets her argument across. That acoustic guitar is bliss.
10. “Kyoto” (Punisher)
Though it’s one of the more sonically upbeat tracks in Bridgers’ discography thanks to some jubilant horns, “Kyoto” is just as lyrically introspective as the rest of her work. During a trip to Japan, Bridgers starts thinking about her childhood and how she shouldn’t have to forgive her father, so she won’t, but she’ll always love him regardless. It’s a subtle bop.
9. “Garden Song” (Punisher)
While Bridgers’ dreams are trying to force her to veer off course, she’s trying to find her way back and stay positive amid the pain. By the end, she realizes “I have everything I wanted,” ending on a positive note, a rare but refreshing occurrence for her. Bridgers’ vocals are as airy as ever and pair well with the soft guitar.
8. “Steamroller” (Killer - EP)
Bridgers and her acoustic guitar are a perfect duo. Bridgers is in love with one of her closest friends, and out of fear that she’ll ruin their relationship completely, she stops herself from going for it. She sums the feeling up perfectly in one phrase: “Part of me wants you, but most of me needs you.” The way she says “lay down” in the first verse is too beautiful for this world.
7. “Moon Song” (Punisher)
If Bridgers could do anything for her friend — “And if I could give you the moon, I would give you the moon” — she absolutely would. That chorus, the way the harmonies blend seamlessly with the drums and it feels like you’ve entered an otherworldly state, is an inexplicably beautiful feeling — one like no other.
6. “Smoke Signals” (Stranger in the Alps)
Bridgers’ partner kept giving her signs, and she didn’t realize just how much they needed help until it was too late. The guitars that greet you will immediately bring you into a dismal world, but the feeling, despite its gloominess, makes you feel so alive. Not to mention, the strings are heavenly.
5. “I Know The End” (Punisher)
With the way things are going, it’s no wonder Bridgers feels like the end of the world is impending. There’s a handful of shifts in the mood, but that guitar, those strings, the drums, every aspect of the production is peerless. The outro is so chaotic and shocking that it works, and it’s a perfect ending to the album that saved 2020.
4. “Scott Street” (Stranger in the Alps)
As Bridgers walks near the place she and her ex used to hang, she can’t help but think about her time with them. She ends up running into them there, and the conversation is awkward, but she wishes them well. The outro feels like the perfect addition to the soundtrack of a coming-of-age film, and it’s so introspective that it would’ve been an iconic closer, but it’s purposefully placed in the middle to signal a change in tone.
3. “Motion Sickness” (Stranger in the Alps)
Bridgers, among several others, has accused Ryan Adams of being abusive, and “Motion Sickness” is her open letter to him. Unfortunately, no matter what she does, she will never be able to completely forget him and the pain he caused. The guitar is so groovy for such a dreary song, but it works well.
2. “Funeral” (Stranger in the Alps)
The roaring guitar in the intro is misleading, so don’t listen to this if you aren’t ready for every lyric to hit you like a truck. Bridgers is about to perform at a friend’s funeral, and she starts thinking about death, which makes her spiral. She finally snaps out of it, though, and spills the evocative lyrics, “Wishing I was someone else, feeling sorry for myself / When I remembered someone’s kid is dead.” The production is subdued and flawless.
1. “Savior Complex” (Punisher)
It’s the middle of the night, and no one understands what you’re feeling nor what you’re going through. Nothing can make you feel better until Bridgers reminds you that she, too, isn’t doing well, and she’s willing to discuss it via “Savior Complex.” She just wants you to listen, to take your mind off what you’re thinking for a while. There’s never been a song quite like “Savior Complex,” something that delineates exactly what it’s like to just feel. It doesn’t even need words to make that point clear: the strings take you to a better place, while Bridgers’ soothing vocals make you feel safe and the guitars instill hope into you. It’s the song to cling to when nothing feels OK, and before you know it, things might start to look up.