Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album Stranger in the Alps is a revelation." /> L.A. Record


September 26th, 2017 | Album reviews

Stranger In The Alps
Dead Oceans

Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album Stranger in the Alps is a revelation. Which is kind of stunning, given how highly it was anticipated before it came out and how hyped it has been since its mid-September release. But even if you knew Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst had hailed the L.A. singer-songwriter as a mega-talent, and even if you’d seen the glowing reviews and “best of 2017” list-placements pouring in recently, Alps will still catch you off guard. It’s that good. At her core, Bridgers is a singer of sad folk songs, and she has a knack for communicating ennui and heartbreak and confusion and loneliness and defiance in ways that feel unmistakably relatable. To wit: “I have emotional motion sickness,” she sings in “Motion Sickness,” a visceral document of the dizzying effects of a breakup and the Mt. Everest on an album of peaks. “Somebody roll the windows down.” You’ve been there, right? Right. The rest of Alps is one gut-punch after another, usually dressed up in some sort of sonic accompaniment that lifts these songs and separates them from straight folk music. There’s the beautiful strings in “Smoke Signals,” the incandescent synth in “Demi Moore,” the noisy outro of “Scott Street,” Oberst’s startling guest vocals in “Would You Rather” and the mournful violin that ends “Funeral.” These are all vital pieces of the whole, but without question, they orbit around Bridgers, her spectral soprano and her gift for turning life’s challenges into tunes that demand repeat listens. Each time, you’ll find something new to take your breath away.

—Ben Salmon