“Everything We Know about … ” is Paste’s series of deep dives into the forthcoming projects we’re most excited about. Explore them all here.
No one can accuse Phoebe Bridgers of holding out on us. She released one of the most remarkable debut albums in recent memory, Stranger in the Alps, in 2017, and seemingly hasn’t taken a moment to breathe since. 2018 brought her straight-out-of-our-daydreams surprise supergroup boygenius with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, whose gem of an EP featured the Bridgers-led standout “Me and My Dog.” Early this year, she and Conor Oberst gave us the similarly unforeseeable gift of Better Oblivion Community Center, which showed off a harsher side of her songwriting on “Big Black Heart” alongside more classic Bridgers compositions like “Chesapeake.”
As if that weren’t enough, she’s had one-off collaborations with Lord Huron, Jackson Browne and The National (out on streaming this Thursday, Oct. 17), and has recorded a steady stream of covers of everyone from Tom Petty and The Cure to Manchester Orchestra and (Sandy) Alex G. And with production credits on the forthcoming Christian Lee Hutson record (another collaborator of Bridgers’, who contributed songwriting to boygenius’s “Ketchum, ID” and several Better Oblivion tracks), Bridgers has more than made a name for herself in the industry.
Suffice it to say that Bridgers has put out enough incredible work for a lifetime in just the last couple of years. Still, you can’t blame Bridgers fans for wanting more, especially when her recent releases have been tempered by her collaborators. Well, it turns out we might not have much longer to wait: Bridgers’ longtime drummer and co-writer Marshall Vore announced via Instagram Monday (Oct. 14) that recording on her second album is complete:
i was gonna make a long sappy post about how we finished recording the 2nd album. it took a year and a half to make. it feels like the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. it’s sad and happy at the same time. i have no idea what the next 2 years will be like but if they’re anything like the last two, i’ll get to play songs i can’t believe with people i hardly deserve to know. that is all, that’s the tweet.
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Here’s everything we know about the record so far.
Along with the usual suspects—among them co-producer Ethan Gruska, drummer Vore and guitarist Harrison Whitford, who all worked on Stranger in the Alps—Bridgers has teased a couple of exciting new faces via Instagram in a Sept. 23 post, in which she stated she was “finishing an album” and going to perform new songs at the Mirrors Festival in London on Nov. 2.
finishing an album. headlining mirrors festival in london on november 2nd and playing new songs for the first time. tickets are on the internet.
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Nick Zinner, who contributed guitar to Better Oblivion Community Center, and joined Bridgers and Conor Oberst on a Brooklyn performance of “Shallow” (of A Star Is Born fame), is set to make an appearance.
Her Instagram post also featured a shot of actor David Duchovny, seemingly recording vocals. Duchovny started a music career in 2015, releasing a second album in February of 2018.
Bridgers hasn’t revealed too much about the themes of her next album, but she’s dropped a few hints about differences from her debut. In conversation with GQ, Bridgers shared that while the wistful material on Stranger in the Alps came out of a depressive episode, she “[tried] to have more fun” this time around. All of us wanting for more melancholia need not worry, however: Her new songs promise to “touch on her favored themes of death and relationships, as well as ‘sour friendships and family shit.’”
Last year, Bridgers spoke to NME and provided a few more details on the subject matter of the new album. She described herself as “being really self-deprecating in my writing now—even more so than on my last record,” and stated that the record will include “some political shit, just because I think about it so much.” “I’m not trying to write some political anthem,” she clarified, “but I can’t live in the country that I live in and not be crushed by what’s going on in the world every day.”
In that same interview with NME, Bridgers said she was interested in taking her sound in a bit of a new direction:
I want to bring in more electronic elements, but also some analogue stuff. Stuff like ‘70s drum machines really fascinates me. It will all line up. I’m not making a concept album or completely changing my sound. It will all grow and I’ll be ready to experiment.
Her Sept. 23 Instagram post also included a brief clip of her emitting some blood-curdling screams in the recording studio, so there may be some screamo in store.
A release date has not yet been announced. Bridgers noted her intent to take her time with her next record in several interviews, particularly in her Teen Vogue feature published this summer, which made her and Vore’s recent announcements that the album was finished a definite surprise:
A lot of people wait five years put up the next record. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I invented this pressure to put on myself, to put something out soon and make it great, when it should just be great and I should just feel good about it. “Why would you rush to put something out?” she asks. “There is nothing more useless than an album that you don’t feel strongly about, out in the world.”
... [S]he’s calming any lingering anxiety about the timing of what’s next by imagining worst-case scenarios. “Worst case scenario is that I go into the studio to record a bunch of songs and then six months later I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I hate it!’” Phoebe says. “So I trash it. And then I do it again.”
Hopefully, she won’t decide to scrap the as-of-yet-untitled project. Though there’s no word yet on its official release, attendees of London’s Mirrors Festival will get a preview of some new tunes at Bridgers’ performance on Nov. 2.
Bridgers spoke to her new album in a new interview with NME published Oct. 30. Key bits include:
Have some of the songs been around for a while, or are they all brand new?
“That’s the weirdest part of making a second record. There were songs on my first record that had started eight years before, but with this record they can only be as old as the time between when I made my first record and now.”
How far along is the album? Is it finished?
“I don’t know! Honestly … The last record, I wrote the last two songs literally in the final hour. I don’t like to put time limits on myself as much as possible. I think that’s the worst thing that I could do right now.”
Bridgers also confirmed a collaboration with Matty Healy of The 1975 and, sadly, revealed that, no, David Duchovny will not be featured on her new record.
Stay tuned for further updates on the album.