If Punisher didn’t already tear your heart out, Phoebe Bridgers’ reworking of the album with critically acclaimed string composer Rob Moose sure will.
Bridgers collaborated with Moose to create Copycat Killer, an EP that revamps several songs from Bridgers’ lauded album, Punisher, with only orchestral strings and vocals. Moose also worked on Bridgers’ 2017 album, Stranger in the Alps, and has also collaborated with big-name artists such as Taylor Swift and Bon Iver.
The first thing to note about this EP is that it never feels like a reduction of the original songs from Punisher. Even though the album removes the guitars and drums from the original tracks, Moose injects so much personality into the songs that it doesn’t feel like anything is missing. Copycat Killer isn’t just an “MTV Unplugged” version of Bridgers’ songs. Instead, it is an ethereal reimagining of the album.
Moose isn’t interested in copying the melodies with string arrangements. The instrumentals he adds to Bridgers’ songs create a new layer of sound that reinforces the comedic tragedy of her lyrics. The playful staccato plucking in the beginning of Punisher turns into a sweeping orchestra as the song ends, creating a contrast that carries the track forward.
On the track “Chinese Satellite,” the influence of artists such as Bon Iver is obvious, as Moose chooses a more abstract arrangement than found in the original song. Such arrangements don’t change the meaning of the original album, but instead offer a new emotional context for listeners to observe.
Moose does not sound like he’s holding back his creative aura. From his years of working with many different artists, Moose has the expertise to experiment on this EP. His blend of traditional and contemporary arrangements for Bridgers’ tracks create a more complex listening experience that will be sure to engage fans of the original songs.
Bridgers recorded new vocals for the reworked songs, which complement the string arrangement beautifully. Lyrics such as, “Hum along 'til the feeling's gone forever,” from “Chinese Satellite” reach a new level of drama as her pitch lowers from the original track.
Meanwhile on “Kyoto,” an originally upbeat song, Bridgers adds more pained inflection to her voice, which makes lyrics such as, “Twenty five felt like flying,” hit a bigger emotional peak.
Bridgers doesn’t try to change the interpretation of the original songs. Instead, Copycat Killer is her way of reinforcing the feelings and emotions of Punisher in a new way. The orchestral versions of Bridgers’ tracks will crush your heart in such a beautiful way that you won’t be able to stop listening.
5 Bad Liars out of 5