Fresh off the June release of her devastatingly beautiful sophomore LP, Punisher, and finally garnering the recognition she deserves, Phoebe Bridgers could’ve taken the rest of the year off.
The folk, indie, rock singer — whatever genre you really want to place her in — is now being sought after for late-night performances, even more Tiny Desk concerts (now up to four), Genius analyses and interviews from any publication lucky enough to earn her attention.
Her name is staying relevant, as it should. No one expected Bridgers to release any new music in the near future — and certainly nothing as transfixing and quick as her new EP, Copycat Killer, which is due out Nov. 20.
Yes, we’ve seen these four tracks before. Yes, they were already perfect, but Bridgers now offers a different feeling, one that’s just as magical. Taking four tracks from Punisher — “Kyoto,” “Savior Complex,” “Chinese Satellite” and the title track, “Punisher” — and transforming them into orchestral arrangements isn’t something we asked for, but now that we have it, we know it’s something we definitely needed.
These versions were curated to perfection thanks to Rob Moose, who can be found sporadically within Punisher and Bridger’s debut, Stranger in the Alps, making listeners ascend because of how good he is with a bow in his hand.
Though these songs are the same lyrically, they offer a new, more atmospheric — if that’s even possible — perspective. Here is what makes each new version stand out:
The original “Kyoto” is one of the most upbeat tracks in Bridgers’ discography, with jubilant horns swirling all throughout and steady but exhilarating drums taking the forefront. On the orchestral version, however, the gentle, never-ending strings pair almost too well with Bridgers’ warm, delicate vocals. You almost forget the track is her way of releasing her frustration toward her father — because the feeling is heavenly and relieving.
The original is already Bridgers’ best track as well as the best to come out of 2020, but the new version takes it to another level. Bridgers just wants to know how her partner is feeling, wants them to know she’s there for them. While the original already conveys that reassurance well, these strings will remind you of how alive you really are, washing you over with inexplicable comfort until you truly feel OK again.
You’ll recognize the subtle strings from the original instantly, but the heavier use here pairs well with Bridgers’ pleas for a sign that there’s more after we die. As the strings zip around, they help accent Bridgers’ words to the point we feel as if we’re speaking them ourselves. As they fade out, we feel as if we’ve made it home — hopefully with our loved ones who have passed.
“Punisher” is where Bridgers got the name for the EP, through the lyric “a copycat killer with a chemical cut,” which she uses to describe herself in relation to her hero, Elliott Smith. The first 10 seconds are a cappella, and though that alone is enough to evoke every feeling in the book, the strings come in to whisk us away to a better place. “Punisher” may be her ode to Smith, but this new version feels like an ode to her fans — because something of this level of beauty just feels like a gift.