Phoebe Bridgers has released a new EP, Copycat Killer, via Dead Oceans, which will feature new recordings of four of the tracks from her critically acclaimed album Punisher which came out in the summer. The new versions were recorded with Grammy Award-winning arranger and string player Rob Moose who is known for working with artists such as Bon Iver, Paul Simon and Alabama Shakes.
Phoebe Bridgers released her debut album in 2017 as a relatively unknown singer-songwriter living in Los Angeles. Today, she’s upped the stakes as an internationally lauded musician with four acclaimed bodies of work to her name: her solo debut, Stranger In The Alps, the boygenius EP with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus in 2018, Better Oblivion Community Center, a surprise collaboration with Bright Eyes musician Conor Oberst, in 2019, and then 2020s acclaimed Punisher. It’s somewhat curious that she has released this new EP Copycat Killers, after the resounding success of this record, with four of the tracks on Punisher given an altogether different sound, but with those lyrics and that voice.
With a real Aimee Mann feel to it, Kyoto is stunningly haunting with those strings, veering her work away from the percussion heavy music we are used to from Bridgers. Reflective and fragile there is more to unpack with this version. Savior Complex is the stand out track on this EP, which has been released with a video starring Normal People‘s Paul Mescal. A reminder of her collaboration with Lucy Dacus (there is a familiar sound to this track). the string composition and vocal range has a hint of pathos but also a cinematic element to it.
Chinese Satellite feels most akin to the original with more up-tempo strings replacing the sombre guitar on the album. Sadly, it doesn’t have the same build or layering elements to as the LP version, but it’s a beaut for many different reasons, and the strings are a workable replacement. LP title track Punisher is the last to feature on this EP and has a more dramatic edge to the subtleties of the LP version. The raw fragility of these strings makes those lyrics, “either I’m careless or I wanna get caught” punch you in the heart. If nothing else, the work with Rob has opened the door for the the lyrics on these four to become more pronounced and allow us to become more reflective with it. Copycat Killers is worth the listen for the delicacy of these wonders.
Copycat Killer is out now, available via Rough Trade