Music Notes with Maddy: Track 3

An album that takes both a harsh yet gentle look at love in all forms: unhealthy, unrequited, and unwanted.

Maddy Bergey, Editor

In honor of Women’s History Month, it only seems fair to feature my absolute favorite female artist: Phoebe Bridgers. This beautiful yet mysterious woman released her first album, Stranger in the Alps, in 2017. From releasing that album to an EP to yet another album in 2020, she has started to become one of the predominant figures in the indie music genre. On top of her own music production, she is also in a band called boygenius, in which she collaborates with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus.

Her first album, Stranger in the Alps, starts off slow with “Smoke Signals,” which is a subtle love song about an anonymous lover who was quietly longing for her attention, thus sending smoke signals. To completely change the vibe, “Motion Sickness” is the next song on the album, which might actually be denoted as one of the most-known songs of Phoebe’s. It is an ode to having emotional motion sickness, which was caused by a toxic, abusive partner of hers at one point. Grabbing people’s attention, this track starts off strong with the lyrics, “I hate you for what you did.”

Staying on the path of describing relationships—though especially the flaws within them—the album continues, as it eventually reaches the sixth track: “Killer.” Though a seemingly gentle song with soft vocals, Phoebe expresses feelings around her own death and absence as a absolvement of abandonment fears, toxic relationships, and desperation. Not only is this featured on Stranger in the Alps, but it was also first released as an acoustic version on her EP in 2015.

The album ends in a rather somber way, as the tenth song—“You Missed My Heart”—is quite literally a song about murder. Though that may be blunt, it was actually derived from a dream Phoebe had. Inevitably, though, the lyrics seem to tie back to the common album theme of unrequited, unhealthy, or even unwanted love. To me, the lyrics seemingly suggest this situation in which one person longs so badly for the other that they are willing to go extreme lengths in order to obtain their love in a reciprocated form.

Though I do not think I could pick a favorite song on Stranger in the Alps, I do know hearing the first chord of “Motion Sickness” live will forever be remembered by me.