Mitski Miyawaki sings songs of hope. Embellished by a profound understanding of sadness; her wrenching, nickel-scratch rock songs represent something larger than what some might confuse with ‘millennial misery’. There’s something distinctly cosmic about Mitski’s songwriting both thematically and in terms of scope. The New York singer affirms in ‘Your Best American Girl’: “But I’m not the moon, I’m not even a star”.
And yet, this grounded self-doubt is paradoxically hope inspiring. ‘Puberty 2’ fully embraces the notion of being free truly to feel one’s feelings. There’s an inherent vice inflicted on young people today that encourages emotional appropriation and repression. Keep your head down; don’t make a scene.
Mitski has burst from these shackles more so on this venture than ever before. Teaming up again with collaborator Patrick Hyland, the whole album’s production has the propulsion of a Corvette veering off a cliffside while retaining the tenable warmth and flash-bang fuzz of 2015’s, ‘Bury Me At Makeout Creek’ - as evidenced by ‘My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars’.
True to its namesake, ‘Puberty 2’ is a foreshadowing of the artist Mitski might become. Channeling the past, ‘Dan The Dancer’ is founded on the timeless two-chord chug that Lou Reed innovator way-back-when. Whereas a track like ‘Fireworks’ experiments with sequenced drums and faint swells of synthetic strings. The track lattices around this melody emphasising resolution despite being sandwiched between struggles of identity (‘American Girl’) and a heart-wrenching epitaph to the downtrodden (‘I Bet On Losing Dogs').
A definite highlight, ‘Losing Dogs’ is an empathetic endorsement for the chronically unassured. It features this melancholic and arresting vocal melody as Mitski sings the album’s most paramount lyric: “I pay for my place by the ring where I'll be looking in their eyes when they're down / I wanna feel it”.
This concept of collective emotivity is rare in an album construct vastly of personal experience. Musicians, intentionally or otherwise, shroud themselves in mystique. Be it through artistic metaphor or their lifestyle, the bonds are often rusty between listener and artist; building unhealthy relationships off of disconnects.
‘Puberty 2’, however, is empathetic above all things. The songs sway with gravitas and hit home whether you’re wrestling with innate and confounding dependence (‘Crack Baby’) or trying to pilot your own mental health (‘Happy’), Mitski feels dedicated to those who, for once, just want to set their own pace.
Words: Will Butler
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