June 17, 2016

LP: Mitski - Puberty 2

Mitski refuses to relinquish control of her story on Puberty 2.

On “Once More To See You,” a sparse, bass-driven song on Mitski Miyawaki’s fourth full-length release, Puberty 2, she makes a bittersweet admission: “We do have reputations.” As Mitski’s sound circulates, so does the narrative within her songs (in an NPR interview, she claimed that she doesn’t possess “the kind of creativity to write fiction”). Still, there’s a sense of agency rooted in this circulation. On the same track, she promises, “We keep it secret / Won’t let them have it.”

In the rise to DIY prominence, Mitski refused to relinquish control of her own story. She documented all of her scrapes and mistakes while they paved the road to maturity, stability, or something between the two. As her latest album’s title suggests, puberty shouldn’t be confined to adolescence, blooming sexuality, or a struggle to keep your skin clear. Mitski characterizes puberty as a time in which you get to know yourself. And it’s not a now-or-never experience; it could occur dozens of times over the years, as the very feelings that threaten your identity can be used to reorient yourself. But it takes time and effort to arrive at that place. Mitski recounts the process of pushing emotions away only to embrace them later. “Fireworks” is a tale of routine—commuting, working, jogging, smiling, blinking, breathing. It’s about living mechanically to forget the feeling. But, that rote system glitches when she remembers, vaguely, what it’s like to feel. Fireworks sound off like a memory so visceral, she can hear the ghost of summers past.

Beauty is stitched into all of Mitski’s brutalities. "Would you kill me, Jerusalem?" she repeats on “My Body’s Made Of Crushed Little Stars,” gulping and gasping between the lines, as if those are the hardest to swallow. Amidst the thumping drum machine or sticky acoustic notes, Mitski does not overcome sadness. She merely describes it and deals. She rejects, then accepts – catching glimpses of herself along the way. Those sightings rush to the surface, much like on “Your Best American Girl,” when Mitski prefaces her surrender with doubt and swelling guitars: “I think I’ll regret this.” And again on “A Burning Hill,” where she returns to a routine, this time a little more lenient (“I’ll go to work and I’ll go to sleep and I’ll love the littler things”). She acknowledges that she has grown and felt, but knows that she’ll never stop growing or feeling. That’s a good place to end, as well as a good place to start.


Listen to Mitski on bandcamp.


Cory Lomberg is a student at Occidental College studying English and Comparative Literature. She enjoys blogging, baking, doing crossword puzzles and talking about her feelings.