Mitski - Be the Cowboy
Be the Cowboy
For some reason I was a little nervous about this record. Mitski's most recent release Puberty 2 was so quintessential for the moment that it came out. The then 25 year old was describing a change that most of us go through, but few have to words to articulate. It was about change and finding happiness in that space. One of the main components of her music, distortion, is all but abandoned on this new album Be the Cowboy. Her vocals are clearly the music less angsty and aggressive at times. It takes her sweet voice and makes it sound even sweeter. She doesn't double her voice here either, and it makes her sound feel more honest and raw. She finds an almost shoegaze moment on "A Pearl" as you space out and allow the waves of music to wash over you. She is also so talented at taking her anxieties and turning them into coherent songs. A lot of times artists will be able to evoke something through their music, but no one can straight transfer an idea to you quite like Mitski can. This album does feel bigger, with more bells and whistles attached, but it still feels like Mitski and she still manages to explore the areas he did while flying somewhat under the radar. Her artistic freedom feels boundless; songs like "Me and My Husband" sound like salon style jaunty tracks while others like "Remember My Name" swell with large orchestral ambitions. Then on "Nobody" she throws it all out the window and goes full Disco extravaganza.
The album closes on "Two Slow Dancers" and the idea that two people can remain in love as their lives change is a heartbreaking look at what becomes of loving relationships. Mitski who in real life can seem impersonal and isolated is really dealing with a whirlwind of emotions all the time. Her new found celebrity after Puberty 2 only magnified this, allowing her to sink deeper in and find more emotions to write about and different ways to express them. The first track "Geyser" has this intense electronic skitter that occasionally breaks through the otherwise sweet floating track, keeping a sense of menace deeply hidden, but always there. The explosion of sound at the end of the track is so freeing, allowing a release that you didn't even know you needed. All of Be the Cowboy absolutely smacks of indie rock goodness, reminding you that rock can still work in 2018. I think the reason I avoided this record is I was scared to tarnish how great Puberty 2 was, well I'm here to tell you Be the Cowboy might be better.
9.0 out of 10