Phoebe Bridgers is on a mission to make us all cry – and it’s working

A portrait of Phoebe Bridgers
(Image credit: Frank Ockenfels)

Phoebe Bridgers is on a one-woman mission to make us all cry as much as is humanly possible – and it’s working. 

On Election Day, the artist promised to drop a cover of Goo Goo DollsIris if Trump lost the election. After a long week, many retweets and thousands of fans begging, Bridgers made good on her promise on Friday the 13th, teaming up with singer Maggie Rogers for a wistful, desperate cover, which stayed online for only 24 hours. Hearts everywhere shattered, but still, she is not content. There are always so many more ways a heart can be broken. 

Bridgers came up around 2017, with the release of her debut album Stranger In The Alps. She’s been pretty restless since, and following the release of her successful second record Punisher earlier this year, Bridgers announced in mid-November that she’d be dropping an EP, Copycat Killer, on November 20. 

Copycat Killer features four new string-arrangement recordings of four tracks from Punisher: Kyoto, Savior Complex, Chinese Satellite and Punisher.  A collaboration with award-winning arranger and player Rob Moose, the EP will be released via Dead Oceans, and adds a new dimension to four already pretty gut-wrenching songs.

Copycat Killer opens with gentle strings, the sound of Punisher single Kyoto reimagined. The track, with its cutting, vulnerable lyrics about her father’s cruelty and abandonment, takes on a new life backed by ever-escalating, dramatic violin. Kyoto leads seamlessly into second track Savior Complex, opening with erratic, high-pitched, chaotic violin and Bridgers’ breathy, gentle vocals. Moose carefully builds the strings and a sense of urgency, underpinning Bridgers’ exploration of a doomed relationship.

Third track Chinese Satellite, one of Punisher’s standout songs, didn’t need a lot of work. But the rearrangement is stirring and dramatic, at once hinting at dark undertones and taking on an uplifting edge. Bridgers’ gentle desperation in the chorus as she pleads with the sky, 'I want to believe/instead, I look at the sky and I feel nothing/you know I hate to be alone' takes on a new life, somehow more full of urgent desire than the first time we heard it.

Copycat Killer closes far too early with Punisher, the track that contains its namesake lyric. The track opens with Bridgers’ voice alone, isolated, eerie and echoing against nothing. As the song unfolds, it becomes playful rather than just sad, hinting at the endless possibilities. It’s not like Bridgers needs much to be one of the most interesting, heartbreaking, talented artists of her generation – it’s instinctive. But Copycat Killer shows her range, capabilities and potential in sharp detail. Moose’s string rearrangements add a depth that was never missing from Punisher, but is gratefully received. 

The album is a reflection on the success she’s already enjoyed in a short career, playing with a drama that she hinted at in Punisher’s closing track I Know The End. Maybe it’s a sign that she’s heading in a more orchestral direction, or maybe she’s just having fun, showing her willingness to play, to revisit her own work with fresh eyes. Either way, we’re on board for whatever heartbreak comes next. 

Copycat Killer will be released on November 22, and is available for pre-order through Rough Trade now