Mitski – Puberty 2 Review

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Though Mitski Miyawaki was born in Japan, she is very much a citizen of the world with Malaysia, China, D.R. Congo and a more prolonged stay in Turkey before we reach her current destination of New York. There, she has grown and shone as an artist with lyrics reflective of her journey and her search for who she is and who people want her to be. Though these have been touched on before, with the title Puberty 2 she looks set to hammer the message home this time with bold and ambitious music, equal to her talent.

The light strumming of chords and light vocals that open ‘Your Best American Girl’ deliver the initially innocent lyrical content which in turn delves deeper as the song ratchets up. At its peak the heavy distortion and feedback ring out as if it was 1994 and through this are her distorted vocals project her message of having to fit into the ‘ideal’ of an “American Girl”. It is a strong track made possible by its dual identity and thought provoking lyrics. The plunging riffs mimic the frustration within the lyrics and because of this, it is a truly emotive effort. With ‘Happy’ she demonstrates beyond the poised, yet heavy guitar work of ‘Your Best American Girl’, are the distorted vocals and developing assortment of sounds in this track. The clunky percussion and steady pulsating beats are joined by Saxophones and heavier, reverbing guitars. Despite the growing sound, Mitski’s vocals stay level and melodic. A neat alternative to the previous single with enough familiarity for a consistent effort. ‘Fireworks’ opens with a light clicking sample and the loose riffs of her guitar. Her vocals softly meander from lyrics as they are joined by a growing, whirring shroud of synth chords. The vocals are expertly produced as they are extended in their echo as she, herself raises the volume. The whole song lifts with it in a seamless build up without sacrificing itself to be a catchier tune.

‘Thursday Girl’ features Mitski’s vocals in beautiful isolation. This is added to by a modulated synth and spacious, prominent bass line. On top of this are the 80’s echoed percussion another light drum sample. As the song steadily flourishes, her vocals grow and the guitars roll in with long drawn out strikes before breaking away to the song in it’s most basic form. A wonderfully worked track. ‘Crack Baby’ is a distorted and more longing version of ‘Prince Johnny’ by St. Vincent as her haunting and soft vocals sing of the loss of drug abuse. ‘Once More to See You’ has Mitski’s vocals working in an anti-harmony against the bold, grungy waltzing instrumentation. Her vocals take the form of those from a 1940’s ballad before they fall at the concluding parts. Tracks such as ‘Dan The Dancer’ are akin to Foo Fighters track instrumentally with aggressive percussion and rumbling guitars, but even in this environment her vocals remain almost stoic and resisting to do the predictable and this adds another dimension that was is on the face of it, a track to rock out to. There are so many positives from this album. Her vocals are facile and smooth at every demand, her guitar work is abrasive, yet perfectly poised and the arrangement and production value is second to none. One of the albums of the year without a shadow of a doubt. It is angsty and full of attitude musically, yet tinged with a vulnerability and emotion that gives the songs a multiplicity of roles.

Mitski – Puberty 2 = 9.5/10

Owen Riddle

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