Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Phoebe Bridgers

  • If We Make It Through December [Dead Oceans EP, 2020] A-
  • Punisher [Dead Oceans, 2020] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

If We Make It Through December [Dead Oceans EP, 2020]
Fragile though her affect may be, Bridgers has no trouble darkening four Christmas songs. She can't be the first to cover the Merle Haggard tune for the holidays, but she is the first to name her Christmas collection for it. She's also the first to bedizen "Silent Night" with a news broadcast that cites killer cop Amber Guyger, Trump adjutant Mick Mulvaney, the opioid-scamming Purdue family, a Louisiana anti-abortion law, and, OK, the first all-female space walk, or to sing "Faithful friends who are dear to us will be near to us" and "Next year all our troubles will be out of sight" during a pandemic (though Judy Garland did during World War II, so make that a tie). Yet because songs about depression are so hard not to wallow in, I admire her cover of McCarthy Trenching's "Christmas Song" most of all: "You don't have to be alone to be lonesome/It's so easy to forget/The sadness comes crashin' like a brick through the window/And it's Christmas so no one can fix it." Cool. A-

Punisher [Dead Oceans, 2020]
If articulated depression is what you crave, does she have lyrical and musical detail for you--philosophical solace or melodic relief, no ("I See You," "Graceland Too") **