Sunday, June 2, 2019

Certain Songs #1553: Phoebe Bridgers – “Scott Street” | Medialoper

Album: Stranger in the Alps
Year: 2017

. . .

In the past few years, much of the best work done in indie rock — like country music — has been by a cohort of female singer-songwriters. Some, like Courtney Barnett or the women who record as Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy, are solo artists; others, like Georgia Maq of Camp Cope and Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths (who made my favorite album of 2018, Future Me Hates Me); and others, like Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers of boygenius, are both.

Bridgers released her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, in 2017 and for me, the highlight was “Scott Street,” an almost unbearably lovely song about a chance encounter with an old flame.

“Scott Street” — a co-write with drummer Martin Vore — opens with a lonely acoustic guitar and a double-tracked Bridgers already ramping up the sad.

Walking Scott Street, feeling like a stranger
With an open heart, open container
I’ve got a stack of mail and a tall can
It’s a shower beer it’s a payment plan

It’s clearly awkward, as evidenced by the creaking violin that starts creeping into the mix as she asks him about his sister getting her degree and he jokes about how old he is, then as the drums finally come in, there’s this exchange.

I asked you “How is playing drums?”
You said it’s too much shit to carry
“And what about the band?”
You said they’re all getting married

And after that, the song breaks down as she asks a question that she doesn’t really want to hear the answer to, or maybe he doesn’t want to answer, because we never find out what the answer is.

Do you feel ashamed
When you hear my name?

Ouch. But before she’s even done asking the question, “Scott Street” well and fully kicks in: not just the drums, but bass, guitars, keyboards and violins, as Bridgers sings a haunting “ooooooh-ooooh-ooh” that will ride out the rest of the song as the music gets more and more intense, even if the tempo doesn’t even ramp up.

Finally, at the end, she kisses him off with a devastating:

Anyway, don’t be a stranger
Anyway, don’t be a stranger
Don’t be a stranger

And after that, she just walks away into the helicopter-filled Los Angeles night.

Official Video for “Scott Street”

“Scott Street” performed live on KEXP, 2018

“Scott Street” performed live on Vevo DSCVR, 2018

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