In Review: Phoebe Bridgers - Copycat Killer

Stripped-back and naive (much like her trademark skeletal costume) Copycat Killer's re-arrangements lifts Bridgers' tender laments to even more haunting heights.
Posted: 30 November 2020 Words: Verity Vincent

Following the release of her second album Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers has gifted us all with EP Copycat Killer, featuring a re-worked selection of songs recorded only with strings and vocals. The project was undertaken with Rob Moose, (producer and arranger for some pretty big names, including Bon Iver and Paul Simon), and if anyone was going to inject even more magic into Phoebe’s work, this was the guy. 

The beauty with Punisher is that its lyrical content connects in such a way that we think of Phoebe as both hero and villain. Without bravado, we hear her darkest thoughts and self-proclaimed failures as well as the emotional growth. What Copycat Killer offers is these selected songs, transcended to even greater heights. 

Starting with ‘Kyoto’, the strings immediately build beautifully to compliment the soft vocals and the words feel ever more prominent, highlighting the loneliness and sadness of getting everything you think you wanted. As one of the lead tracks on Punisher, the album version is one of the most animated, which makes it the perfect choice not only to strip back to ballad form, but to open the EP.

‘Saviour Complex’ blends in with flickering violins that strike such emotion, somehow even the lyric “But I’m too tired, to have a pissing contest” feels poignant amongst the fragile construction. This really is one of the most gloriously heart wrenching moments on Copycat Killer. Close your eyes, hit repeat. It only gets better.

‘Chinese Satellite’ slightly changes course, with the initial verse being plucked on an acoustic guitar. Moose manages to flip between this and orchestral bursts throughout before Phoebe’s vocals are silhouetted in the opening of final track ‘Punisher’. Musically, you feel like this closes the EP on a more uplifting note, which is part of the brilliance of how this juxtaposes with the lyrics; a love letter to Elliott Smith, there’s a purity and almost childlike desperation that bleeds through in the unknowing of what would happen if she were to have a conversation with him. 

Copycat Killer is calling out to be played live, in a cathedral, on Halloween, with ambiotic candlelight. We can only hope that one day this happens. Bridgers has received four Grammy nominations for 2021, cementing that the world is floating in the Phoebe-sphere and doesn't appear to be returning to earth any time soon.

Copycat Killer is out now on Dead Oceans. 

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