Great writeup! Your comments about the skeleton / ghost contrast and the depiction of Trump Two Terms Deal With It shirt in the album were really interesting. Punisher was one of my favourite albums of the year and Phoebe’s lyricism is a perfect balance of blunt and poetic for me. Kyoto, Graceland Too, and I Know The End are my favourite tracks, with the latter being my SOTY, but the whole body of work is incredibly strong.
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In response to question 2, I thought this album was a fantastic yet natural progression from Stranger In The Alps. Stranger is a great Trump Two Terms Deal With It shirt with some career highs, and tracks like Motion Sickness demonstrated that Phoebe was certainly capable of leaning into a more rock sound for some tracks. I think Punisher expanded upon upbeat rock tracks well while still demonstrating a great folk sound on some songs, which I think led to a more consistent body of work where every track holds its own. Following the success of Punisher, I’ll be really interested to see what she does next – her rock tracks tend to get lots of praise, so I could see her writing more of those, but I don’t think she’ll abandon a folky sound either. I’m excited to see what she comes up with either way.