If Japan seems decidedly far-flung at the best of times, then at these – the worst – it feels all the more so. But no matter: before planetary travel restrictions came into play, Phoebe Bridgers went there and came back with Kyoto – the second to come from her forthcoming sophomore full-length, Punisher. Known, and now renowned, for her lachrymose commentaries, Kyoto makes for a somewhat welcome break, as diarial lyrical content (“Day off in Kyoto/ Got bored at the temple/ Looked around at the 7-Eleven/ The band took the speed train/ Went to the arcade/ I wanted to go, but I didn’t,” it begins) rides over comparably ebullient musical accompaniment; horns (courtesy of Nate Walcott), driving 12-string, pumping drums, and such. Warpaint’s Jenny Lee Lindberg also contributes. But more familiar territory is also trodden, not least in its typically confessional second chorus, as Bridgers sings: “I don’t forgive you/ But please don’t hold me to it/ Born under Scorpio skies/ I wanted to see the world/ Through your eyes until it happened/ Then I changed my mind” with a conviction that is consummately resolute. Truly lovely stuff, with a superlative vocal performance to match.
Punisher is available from June 19th via Dead Oceans.