Phoebe Cockburn has been center-stage since she was fifteen years old. As a teenager, she was fronting for Snakadaktal, an indie dream-pop outfit that was active from 2009 to 2014 and generated a ton of success. She is also one of the people (vocals) in Two People—an electronic duo project she shares with Joey Clough who was also part of Snakadaktal. But today we are talking about Phoebe Go—her solo project, and where the majority of her attention has been dedicated for the past three years.
Phoebe hails from Melbourne, Australia, and it will be a delight to have her music brighten Thalia Hall in early February Chicago. Hers is a languid but buoyant, soulful brand of indie pop that both agrees with the current state of the weather while also serving as an uplifting antidote.
Phoebe has been writing music since she was a kid (Snakadaktal was originally a high-school project), and her substantial practice shows up in a big way in her debut solo EP “Player” (2022). A short record of just five tracks, “Player” is a pernicious and gloomy story with punctuations of hopeful reflection and a ton of adroit prose and phraseology.
There is a relationship at the heart of this record, and you get the sense of whether it is coming or came to an end. The length of the EP works well with its thematic elements—it offers an exercise in pithy and succinct suffering. If it was much longer, it might feel too distressing or tired, both to consume and probably to write. This supposition is confirmed by her latest (aptly named) single “Something You Were Trying,” in which she sings: “But maybe we’re just better at hiding/So I kinda figure that you were never really mine/And I was just something you were trying.”
All that said it would be reductive to assume “Player” is only about a relationship. In “The Kid” (track two) Phoebe gets in touch with something intangible and more existentially unsettling, an internal and inescapable conflict rooted in growing up too quickly:
‘Cause I take it to the heart
And now I’m going under
I’m out looking for the stars
But they’re all looking for the dark
Got a handful of hope, for the voice in my head
Still tying me up with every word unsaid
Drown me out
I wanna hear all about you for now
I’ll take the floor and you can take the couch
Baby, just watch the door as I watch your mouth
Cockburn is a hyper-talented songwriter who tries to make sad songs feel less sad, and the result is a wonderfully sublime and inquisitive product that hurts and elevates in equal dimensions.
Phoebe Go is playing Thalia Hall with Briston Maroney on February 8. Advance tickets are sold out, though there will be a limited number available for purchase at the door. Doors at 6:30pm; show at 7:30pm.