MITSKI – ” Puberty 2 ” Best Albums Of 2016

Posted: November 20, 2016 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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mitski

Not many artists have had better years than Mitski. With the release of her celebrated album “Puberty 2” (via Dead Oceans Records), Mitski only got bigger and bigger, but always on her own terms. On November 21st, she played her largest headlining show in New York yet, with a sold out performance at Webster Hall, along with two great openers in Weaves and Fear Of Men. It was even more impressive to see the hold she had over Webster Hall crowd during every living moment of her personal 15-song set. She attracts a young and passionate fanbase, who are devoted to every word and line she delivers, singing it back even more emotional than it was originated. There’s a sincere power to her voice, and it’s hard not to be swept up by it all.
Mitski is only going to garner more accolades as the best of the year lists continue to file in, it’s safe to say that her star will only rise even more over the years. It’s been a great pleasure to watch her grow as an artists, and here’s to whatever she does next.

In “A Loving Feeling” from her new album Puberty 2, Mitski Miyawaki asks, over static and guitars, “What do you do with a loving feeling/ if a loving feeling makes you all alone?” It’s a question she poses, in various forms, throughout the record, sometimes in a hopeful whisper, other times in an enraged, accusatory shout. By the end of “Puberty 2″, it becomes clear that it’s a question she can only answer herself.

The album’s title positions it as a sequel—the awkward, cruel extension of a life stage few people would willingly revisit. She depicts that tension and confusion with particular pointedness in “Happy,” where the titular emotion finally visits her, only to leave a mess behind. “Well I sighed and mumbled to myself/ ‘Again I have to clean,’” she sings in amusement. The sax riff and dry applause that follows land like a punch line.

Subtle images of “pinky promise kisses,” of being the little spoon that “kiss[es] your fingers forever more,” of taking one last look at a lover in the rear view mirror, convey a vulnerable intimacy; it’s as if Mitski, in the midst of self-doubt and anxiety, wants to make herself smaller. Yet throughout the album, those subtleties give way to sudden, explosive moments of exhilaration and self-assertion: slow doo-wop declarations of love in “Once More to See You,” ragged howls and aggressively-strummed guitars in “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars,” the invasive flash of sweet memories during “one warm summer night” in “Fireworks,” and the fierce look of love on “I Bet on Losing Dogs.” By the record’s end, it’s clear that Mitski has made peace with her question about a “loving feeling.” She finds all of the strength and peace she needs simply by loving herself. She may be alone, but she’s never lonely.

Mitski — Puberty 2

That might make Puberty 2 sound meek. It is anything but. Mitski and her sole collaborator and producer, Patrick Hyland, trade the slightly rustic quality of 2014’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek for grungy sharpness and spacey ambience, These 11 tracks creep up on you, as her coiled melodies suddenly explode into cavernous freak-outs or build to a crescendo of unbearable catharsis.

Mitski – Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans Records)

Puberty is a motherfucker. It’s a time when your body’s doing weird stuff, your hormones are running wild, and every little problem seems like the end of the world. But things gets easier. Your emotions don’t go away or even get smaller, necessarily — you just learn to deal with them, to manage them, to live your life anyway. That’s what growing up is, and Puberty 2 is the sound of Mitski growing up.

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The fuzzed-out indie-rock that’s become her signature is supplemented by drum machines, synths, even a saxophone, blossoming from the soft/loud dichotomy of Bury Me At Makeout Creek to a more nuanced spectrum of sound. Lyrically, Mitski is focused on what basically amounts to Newton’s third law of emotion: for every feeling, there is an equal and opposite un-feeling. On opener “Happy,” that endless and inevitable cycle is cause for hopelessness and exhaustion. But by the closing track, you get the sense that she’s figured out the secret to living, which is that that there isn’t really a secret to living — you kinda just have to do it. Or, as she sighs in the album’s closing lines: “So today I will wear my white button-down/ I can at least be neat/ Walk out and be seen as clean/ And I’ll go to work and I’ll go to sleep/ And all of the littler things.” Puberty 2 might be a huge achievement, but it’s the sound of all the littler things that get you through the big things. It matters.

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