Phoebe Bridgers
Stranger In The Alps


5.0
classic

Review

by PatternsInTheIvy USER (6 Reviews)
November 6th, 2018 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: lost

I’ve been stationed on a naval vessel for quite some time, and one thing you end up realizing about being out at sea is that you really have to cherish the limited number of hobbies you can occupy your time with. This mostly encompasses the artistic or entertainment-related stuff, from video games to music to reading to movies. But without wifi at my disposal, I’ve had no choice but to appreciate and get lost in the albums and songs I do have. It’s especially true of the records that display a stunning command of atmosphere, the records that suck you into their own unique world when there’s no other world in real life to get sucked into. But, to be frank, Stranger in the Alps is not an album whose “world” provides much positive encouragement or an array uplifting ditties. So why, then, is this sad collection of indie folk tunes the one I’ve listened to the most during my time on board the ship this year"

Because it’s a soothing, comforting sort of sadness that’s just as calming as it is melancholic. The strange thing about this record is that - as a number of people have stated already - Phoebe Bridgers is incredibly upfront about her downbeat subject matter. She won’t beat around the bush. She won’t try and bullshit the listener. Yet somehow (unlike her fellow indie folk companion Julien Baker), she sounds oddly self-assured. The unusually upbeat chorus of the somewhat high-tempo “Motion Sickness” actually sounds a bit triumphant when heard through Bridgers’ higher register, for instance. And even in the most downplayed moments of the experience, there’s a kind of conviction in her voice and her guitar playing that’s just mesmerizing. The cover of Sun Kil Moon’s “You Missed My Heart” features, quite literally, the exact same chord progression throughout its entire runtime and never gets boring because of Bridgers’ elegant vocal performance and the little instrumental flourishes she so subtly uses.

Those flourishes are a big factor in why Stranger in the Alps is so incredible, though. Opener “Smoke Signals” immediately sets the tone, blending clean-channel echo-swathed guitars with the light glaze of symphonic strings that sound like they came straight from Vespertine. From the first time that sad, draining motif hits the ears, the mix of sadness and beauty is intoxicating. The same thing happens when you reach “Funeral,” and “Demi Moore,” which drive that feeling further. The former has one of the best intros in recent memory - complete with a bleak cluster of distorted amp/guitar effects that really (well, presumably) wring out that feeling of being on your deathbed - while the latter uses the theremin to generate the same feeling of alienation that The Beach Boys’ “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” did with that instrument. The great thing about this album, though, is that Bridgers is capable of being both reflective and brutally honest at the same time. She doesn’t linger on either of those traits too long to get repetitive, as she alternates between them frequently to juggle the album’s themes and ideas around a bit.

Still, I haven’t entirely answered that question in the first paragraph. Maybe the reason I’ve listened to Stranger in the Alps so much on while underway is because there’s so much relatability in the fact that Bridgers supports her subtle and organic brand of folk with such a strong dose of honesty. Maybe vice versa, even. And maybe, as I said in the beginning, it’s all about cherishing the atmosphere and the fine little details when have the time to really sit down and listen. All I can say is that I haven’t felt this relaxed and self-assured listening to such a depressing and even cathartic release in a long time. A perfect score might be a bit hyperbolic, especially for such a new release, but it’s hard to imagine what else to give it. And considering this is only Bridgers’ first full-length, my mind is racing at the possibilities of how she’ll harness her penchant for hypnotic melancholy next time around.



Recent reviews by this author
Crash Test Dummies Give Yourself A HandAlice in Chains Rainier Fog
Ariana Grande SweetenerEleanor Friedberger Rebound
Nick Drake Bryter Layter
user ratings (202)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Atari STAFF (4.2)
Long before I reach 100, I'll have fallen to the ground...



Comments:Add a Comment 
PatternsInTheIvy
November 6th 2018


150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Not really sure how I feel about this review, but I just wanted to express how much this album has meant to me

Dettlaff
November 6th 2018


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great work. I feel like this was really overlooked, definitelu a gem.

neekafat
November 6th 2018


13029 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't wait to read this after I get out of this film, been wanting to review this myself for a long time

AdolfChrist
November 6th 2018


18036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Dettlaff there are 23 pages of comments here and she has 32000 likes on FB, and shes only going to get bigger. She's had an appearance on Conan. And this is all after her first full length. I dont think the word "overlooked" applies to this.

Digging: Devil Master - Inhabit The Corpse

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2018


56213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

nice



Don't know if y'all have heard the version of Killer with Noah Gundersen but it's the best thing ever

Digging: Lil Peep - Come Over When You're Sober Pt. 2

Dettlaff
November 6th 2018


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album has less than 200 ratings

AdolfChrist
November 6th 2018


18036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thats not a bad number on sput these days.

PatternsInTheIvy
November 7th 2018


150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I still wish it had more ratings than that, but yeah, I guess it's not a terrible number.



Thanks Dettlaff!

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 7th 2018


28400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

I'm not a big fan of talking about review scores in the review itself

otherwise the review is quite good, you should be proud of this write up



Digging: John Nolan - Abendigo

luci
November 7th 2018


10130 Comments


can't be overlooked when you're an industry plant who made it

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 7th 2018


28400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

why does everyone care so much how she came to fame

I get that it lowers her authenticity/indie-cred or whatever but if she's talented and has connections who would blame her for taking advantage of a pathway to success?

theBoneyKing
November 7th 2018


15510 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Plus even if it was good for her career her relationship with Ryan Adams was undeniably a bit fucked up.

Digging: The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

Dettlaff
November 7th 2018


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I get that it lowers her authenticity/indie-cred or whatever but if she's talented and has connections who would blame her for taking advantage of a pathway to success?"



Well said. If you have the means for it, why not facilitate the talent?

luci
November 7th 2018


10130 Comments


I was amused though when she responded to the accusations by saying "im honestly just a regular ol’ plant"

Dettlaff
November 7th 2018


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Smoke Signals is da best song eva.

AdolfChrist
November 7th 2018


18036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

when she responded to the accusations by saying "im honestly just a regular ol’ plant"



Best response possible.

PatternsInTheIvy
November 7th 2018


150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Luci, what is it with you and authenticity recently? I've seen you posting that kind of stuff quite a bit

luci
November 7th 2018


10130 Comments


I'm disillusioned with the whole sad girl indie scene and have become more critical of singer/songwriter methods. Sense a lot of artifice in this genre that I overlooked before because I just focused on the feels.

PatternsInTheIvy
November 7th 2018


150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That's what I kinda gathered, yeah. Idk, I'm starting to become a lot more disillusioned with Julien Baker's approach to it than I am with someone like Phoebe Bridgers, though. Same goes with Soccer Mommy, to an extent

AdolfChrist
November 7th 2018


18036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Emma Ruth Rundle is the real deal, boys.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy