Phoebe Bridgers’ “Day After Tomorrow” makes the shadows come to life

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Apple Music

Phoebe Bridgers’s signature sheet ghosts go for a day of ice skating.

I’m driving home while it’s snowing on a Thursday night. I was coming home from work and thinking about the ways in which I would go about moving forward—catching up to the world around me. But still, I was driving, faster and faster on East Paris, going nowhere—not in a rush. I drove in circles around my neighborhood just to admire the way the snow sank into itself like mashed potatoes; thinking about how if I painted it blue, it would look like Speedway slushies in the summer.

I can hear the subdued beat of Phoebe Bridgers’ “Garden Song” reverberating through my head. On repeat, over and over, while I stopped to sit in parking lots, focusing so hard on the falling flakes in attempts to stop them in midair—to somehow make time standstill.

I drove in circles around my neighborhood just to admire the way the snow sank into itself like mashed potatoes; thinking about how if I painted it blue, it would look like Speedway slushies in the summer.”

December of last year until January of this year was accompanied by so, so many of those snowy drives and so, so much Phoebe Bridgers. Her music molded me during that time period, defined me in a way, but still allowed me to slip like water through many people’s hands. Punisher, her second studio album, was the soundtrack to my life back then, and in a twisted way, I almost want to dive headfirst into those feelings again just to have her voice constantly humming in my head. In school, doing homework, opening presents on Christmas Day, and those late-night drives; she was there, sitting by my side, whispering in my ear that the blue-grey of the winter sky was more forgiving than it looked.

“Day After Tomorrow,” Phoebe Bridgers’ latest single, has brought a flood of faces and feelings I didn’t remember back into my life. Her voice is ghostly, it dissolves into the air in my room and pushes the stuffiness right out of the atmosphere in here—through my stubborn inclination to keep the door shut tight, always.

It reads as the summation of all of her work as a whole, with lyrics such as, “I still believe that there’s gold at the end of the world, and I’ll come home to Illinois on the day after tomorrow.” Her voice is dripping with desperation, fighting its way out of the bleak places it’s been stuck in for so long. 

Her lyrics are paired with soft hues of blue that occasionally flare up red—if only for a second. It’s screaming in a room full of people without anyone turning their heads because it all just comes out as a whisper, faint yes, but packed full of raw emotion, nonetheless.

This track chronicles the fight towards keeping your promises but falling short and still being hurt by everyone’s disappointment. It’s so hard to put that feeling into words. I’ve been trying for a year now but always fall short. But she doesn’t, and listening to this song makes me feel like I’m not alone in the dark at night, and the jagged edges of the shadows creeping up and up further on my walls soften their edges.

“Day After Tomorrow” doesn’t try to pull you out of all the dark places, but instead offers up a cup of warm coffee held in a mittened hand—sitting with you in a way that makes you appreciate the way you feel right now, for the first time.