I Can’t Stop Listening To “Kyoto” By Phoebe Bridgers

I can’t live entirely on listening to Beach Bunny’s Honeymoon over and over. Well, I probably could, but I’d prefer to listen to other music from time to time. I gave Waxahatchee’s new album, St. Cloud, a couple spins. I liked the THICK album a bit. There is a new song that I am spinning like crazy, though, and it’s got me excited for an album coming in June. The song in question is “Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers.

I am certainly a Bridgers fan. I thought her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, was really good. I enjoy the boygenius record as well. Better Oblivion Community Center, her collaboration with Conor Oberst, was a fun project. Her aesthetic decisions related to promoting her music also are right up my alley. She had this wispy ghost motif going on that I dug (and the fact I have a sheet ghost tattoo speaks to that). That being said, I think Bridgers has more variance than a lot of the musicians I listen to. I tend to either love her songs or not be into them. She’s a very specific lyricist. Sometimes that is to her detriment. She gets really detailed, and in a way that often is, or at least feels, personal. Another person’s experience can certain resonate with me. When her lyrics feel like a particularly idiosyncratic journal entry, though, it kind of falls flat to me.

I’ve heard two songs from the upcoming Punisher. “Garden Song” is pretty good. I listened a couple times and then didn’t return to it. I think I’ve already listened to “Kyoto” like a dozen times and had multiple conversations about it. For starters, it’s infectiously catchy. Bridgers is a great vocalist, so she always has that going for her. Lyrically, though, I think “Kyoto” also knocks it out of the part. It is personal, and specific, as per usual, but in a way that works for me. I love some of the turns of phrase and also the rhythm of them as lyrics. There’s a part where she sings “You called me from a payphone/They still got payphones/It costs a dollar a minute.” I immediately was hooked into this song just by that.

“Kyoto” has burned itself into my brain. I’ve had to stop listening it so it doesn’t become too much of an earworm. It may be Bridgers’ best song, at least in some ways. It’s not as deeply emotionally gripping as some of the stuff on Stranger in the Alps, but I don’t know if she has ever made a song that sounds better.

About Chris Morgan

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