Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 31
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 31
  3. Negative: 0 out of 31
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  1. Sep 21, 2020
    Punisher is a product of the times, but it’s also one that could have only been made by Phoebe Bridgers. She’s the only artist I can think of who has the ambition and elegance to tackle two crumbling worlds at the same time: the one in her mind, and the one outside her doorstep. It's an album characterized by its finality; a series of lasts in a time where preparing for the end is starting to feel less and less absurd.
  2. Jun 19, 2020
    Bridgers’s modernity is actually a kind of timelessness, yet delivered in an emotional and lyrical lexicon that speaks directly to this moment.
  3. 100
    What it most successfully captures is stasis, and an undercurrent of anxiety around what lies in the future. The LA songwriter’s ability to paint this lingering feeling of dread so vividly is perhaps the biggest factor in her rapid rise to cultish indie household name.
  4. Q Magazine
    Jun 9, 2020
    A masterpiece in mood setting, the apocalyptic Punisher aches with sadness, but Bridgers doesn't wallow. ... The end of the world rarely sounds this good. [Summer 2020, p.106]
  5. Jun 18, 2020
    One of the year’s best.
  6. Jun 19, 2020
    Whether she intended to do so or not, Phoebe Bridgers has created a musical monument to our dissociative age with Punisher. It’s an album about sleepless nights and sinking feelings in the pit of your stomach, wrapped in a musical package that’s both feather-light and lush enough to run your fingers through.
  7. Jun 17, 2020
    Punisher is a dazzling record, one filled with sadness but not overwhelmingly so, full of moments that sting the first time you hear them but burrow deeper into the soul with each listen.
  8. 90
    What I think makes this album stand out just a bit more, edgier and whatnot, from her debut three years ago in Stranger in the Alps is there's a fearlessness to embrace the mainstream aesthetic just a bit more. Not something like Lana del Rey's style or that kind of thing, but a more contemporary, alternative and dare I say poppy sound.
  9. Jun 19, 2020
    Strange and exquisitely moving. ... Bridgers’s lyrical talent was evident on her 2017 debut, “Stranger in the Alps,” which had a few perfect songs but as a whole sometimes felt muted, languid and downcast. “Punisher,” though, moves along fluidly with its eyes to the vast sky. Bridgers’s arpeggiated guitar work remains quietly deft.
  10. Jun 19, 2020
    Sonically, she expands exponentially from her debut Stranger in the Alps. That album, elegant and wise, dealt mostly in acoustic guitars and fairly familiar folk influences. Her hero, Elliott Smith, was deeply felt. Punisher keeps some of the acoustics but also blows it all up: strings, horns, waves of mellotron melodies and nylon guitars create a greater sense of a swirling hurricane just waiting to happen.
  11. Jun 19, 2020
    Punisher is funny but serious, subtle yet obtuse, familiar and somehow simultaneously entirely unique. Even if in the final analysis it’s still not massively folky.
  12. Jun 18, 2020
    As the record builds to a final cathartic hushed scream, ‘Punisher’ marks a clear step forward, but one that remains as fundamentally graceful as all that has come before.
  13. Jun 18, 2020
    Great songwriters build fully realized worlds in their songs, but on Punisher Bridgers is often able to do it in just a few lines.
  14. Jun 17, 2020
    Tucked in among the record’s memorable melodies, clever arrangements and impressive guests are a steady stream of details that lend plainspoken perspective to Bridgers’ emotional highs and (mostly) lows. These kinds of details ground her work in the same way shading makes a still life painting pop. They make them feel not just sad, but real.
  15. Jun 22, 2020
    Her music never sounds alone. The record glows with this strange self-sufficiency, an instinct to push forward against bad odds.
  16. Jun 19, 2020
    The main difference between Stranger in the Alps and Punisher is simply maturation of her writing.
  17. Jun 22, 2020
    Punisher is a worthy follow-up to Bridgers’ impressive debut, building upon her distinctive style of storytelling while adding a bit more flavor. Though mostly soft and measured, the poetic imagery and occasional bursts of dynamism keep the album from ever getting dull.
  18. Jun 22, 2020
    Bridgers’s second album under her own name, Punisher moves forward confidently from her 2017 debut, Stranger in the Alps.
  19. Uncut
    Jun 19, 2020
    A deservedly confident album. [Aug 2020, p.28]
  20. Jun 19, 2020
    Bridgers is ironically at her best on Punisher when she finds herself the most disoriented.
  21. 80
    Punisher triumphs in the joy and pathos that’s to be found in returning to its stories, where like Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, there’s always new depths, clues and answers that make you want to dive right back in.
  22. Jun 18, 2020
    Already masterful at creating sad, smart songs, Bridgers reaches new depths with Punisher.
  23. Jun 17, 2020
    The maturation of Bridgers' craft, and influence of her peers, is apparent on Punisher. The songs alternate between tightly wound pop-rock ("Kyoto") and a soft concoction of folk-rock ("Savior Complex") and both sides feel focused and sturdy. Bridgers keeps getting better and Punisher affirms this.
  24. 80
    Reteaming with co-producers Ethan Gruska and Tony Berg, Bridgers pulls the listener into a weary world only she could master. It’s exhaustive but redemptive, and she casts her songwriting into fire and brimstone, only to later yank it free in the knick of time.
  25. Jun 17, 2020
    ‘Punisher’ is an immense album tackling the ugly and absurd sides to life with beauty, humour and self-awareness. It’s a unique reporting style and a key statement.
  26. 80
    Punisher ends with a thunderstorm of manic, discordant brass and drums and a pained scream, the physical culmination of the undercurrent of doom that has lurked throughout. But you emerge feeling not deflated but purged. Punisher has the effect of a particularly pummelling massage.
  27. Mojo
    Jun 9, 2020
    It's artfully rumpled, but the ragged angry gasps that close the record confirm Bridgers' songwriting isn't the effortless dream it seems. [Jul 2020, p.78]
  28. Jun 9, 2020
    Punisher is more sure of itself than its predecessor, thanks to Bridgers’ sharpened and studied songwriting. Her couplets, even more biting this time around, are either brutally self-directed (“I’m a bad liar/With a savior complex”) or just quietly dazzling.
  29. Jun 9, 2020
    These songs simmer beautifully and quietly, eventually boiling over in intermittent moments of sonic boisterousness, and the results are often stunning.
  30. Jun 19, 2020
    Over the past few years, it may have seemed like Bridgers was a team player, but on Punisher, she reannounces herself as a solo songwriter reaching her peak.
  31. Jun 19, 2020
    Too many of the songs’ flourishes are really just tricks of production rather than genuine songwriting ingenuity. Her ability to turn a phrase, her gorgeous voice, and her sheer charm can justify a lot, but she needs more than those tricks in her bag to sustain what will hopefully be a long and fruitful career.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 336 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 336
  1. Jun 18, 2020
    i feel so strongly about this album that i decided to make an account just to review it. that alone should be enough to explain how absolutelyi feel so strongly about this album that i decided to make an account just to review it. that alone should be enough to explain how absolutely stunningly phenomenal this record is. it’s incredibly timely and although it feels very sad (much like its predecessor, stranger in the alps), it’s a different kind of sad. these aren’t originally my words, but i think it would be apt to articulate stranger in the alps as a “winter sadness” record, whereas punisher feels to me more like a “summer sadness” record. where stranger in the alps feels cold, this record feels hot.

    i also think every second of punisher feels just as rewarding as the highest highs of phoebe’s debut; she seems to have grown tremendously as a songwriter and it shows.

    my expectations for this record was very very high, and it still managed to blow me out of the water. probable album of the year, in my opinion.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 31, 2020
    Underwhelming. I don’t know but it just feel flat to me & the way she sings makes me want to go to sleep. But I guess once this persona getsUnderwhelming. I don’t know but it just feel flat to me & the way she sings makes me want to go to sleep. But I guess once this persona gets taken away, you get a basic chick that no one would pay attention to... so good for you for keeping up with this shtick. Full Review »
  3. Jun 19, 2020
    Bizarrely good songwriting and production. It's an instant classic. Can't wait to keep listening to this forever.