Some artists hone their personal styles to include only one perfect form, while others understand how to equally achieve various styles in multiple perfect forms. The latter is exceedingly more difficult, but Mitski, 25 year old New York- based indie rocker, is proof it can be done.
Mitski, an experienced singer/songwriter, has officially released her fourth album, Puberty 2, this past June. Her eclectic sound brings different instruments into the mix including electronic beats, acoustic guitar, piano, and more. But, what separates Mitski from other singer/songwriters is her original voice, which can be soft, rough, haunting, and sensual all simultaneously. Her most recent album displays all this, and extends its lyrics to a bittersweet period in life: puberty.
First, Mitski uses her ingenious metaphorical lyrics in “Happy” (track one). She uses a sadder and softer musical intro to tell the story of ‘Happy’ coming to town, an alias for a real person that makes her feel ecstatic when they are around. Yet, Happy does not stay long, neither does actual happiness. At one point it is lost to another emotion that substitutes its place. However, once Happy departs, everything else is essentially worthless because everything great is now gone. The second half of the song is musically rough, declaring its anger towards what is missing.
The album moves onto a more haunting song, “Once More to See You,” (track three). Mitski’s voice feels flimsy in this track, especially in the intro when she sounds like a whispering ghost wanting to be seen. Specifically, she is longing for a past lover to come back, if only for her to see him one more time.
Her fourth track, “Fireworks,” which smoothly organizes piano, electronic beats, and repeated guitar strums together into a relatable song about depression. Lyrically, Mitski is telling a story about a relationship in a funk, and the female is depressed about this change, however, her boyfriend doesn’t notice how upset she has become. So, to self-medicate her sorrow she tries to remember the good times, like when she sings, “And then one summer night/ I’ll hear fireworks outside/ And I’ll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry”.
Next up is Mitski’s catchiest track and the album’s single, “Your Best American Girl,” (track five). The chorus sums up the plot, when it describes two people dating that are from two different worlds, and both are trying to be the best.
Track seven, “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars,” is the most relatable song on the album, detailing the pressures of adulthood. The rough guitar strums feed off of the harsh lyrics, which can be understood when Mitski states when you are an adult you must get things done correctly and on time, that there is no room for failure during interviews, making deadlines, and paying rent.
As the album goes on, the listener can hear a more sensual Mitski, like in track eight, “Thursday Girl,” and track 10 “Crack Baby”. While in between these tracks is an upbeat song, “A Loving Feeling”. Which lyrically explains how two people are lovers when they are alone, yet when they are with company, they appear to be solo.
And to return to track 10, “Crack Baby,” another mixed instrumental, is a song about longing; yet not for someone, but for something. The character in this song has a desire for something, but unfortunately doesn’t know what it exactly is, but feels as though he or she experienced it before. Mitski uses her lyrics to explain how brutal it is to be a void- empty, and aching for it to be filled.
Then we come to the last song, “A Burning Hill,” (track 11) one of the shortest tracks, but makes a great exit to the album. The lightly strumming intro leads into another metaphoric track. Mitski explains the hopeful feelings of being repeatedly promised something that never comes to fruition. The person behind the promises says more than they do, and the one being promised is done believing. The waiting is personified in these lines, “And I am the fire, and I am the forest/ And I am a witness watching it/ I am standing in a valley watching it/ And you are not there at all”.
All in all, Mitski formed an album of eclectic beats, metaphoric lyrics, and multiple singing styles that show her versatile talents. Puberty 2, is an album that explains 11 individual stories, all of which try to decipher the labyrinth of puberty after it is over and done. Mitski’s stories may be different from our own preteen days, but they are relatable in the way that these memories will never be thought of as perfect.
Mitski has an upcoming show at Durham’s Motorco on November 16. It promises to be an intimate and captivating show, and tickets can be found online at http://www.motorcomusic.com.