Mitski rides all genres firmly in the saddle
It’s always fantastic when you stumble across an artist whose several albums into their career and has the perfect balance between having a style and yet still experimenting with their palette too. That’s how I felt when I discovered Mitski with her new album “Be The Cowboy”. Her rock centres around making songs that are barely ever over the two and a half minute mark, yet feel fully formed and full of life. “Be The Cowboy” bowled me over and then some and I highly recommend it.
Mitski swaps styles at the drop of a hat. Opening with the organ-drenched prog-rock of “Geyser” we have a celebratory explosion of rock with a growling introduction that blossoms into a cinematic stadium-filling finale. No sooner is that over we have the Shiina Ringo like dance-rock “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?” with heavy synths, funky guitars and then a brass arrangement. It sounds like it shouldn’t go together, but like the aforementioned Ringo, Mitski has a real talent of throwing so much into a song and making it gel effortlessly and seamlessly. The swaying out of time “Old Friend” returns to the piano folk-pop of some of her earlier records before the anthemic “A Pearl” rocks your soul. This is all within 10 minutes – it’s a bountiful rollercoaster ride.
No genre of rock is really out of reach from Mitski’s talents. Country get’s a gentle nod with the lovely “Lonesome Love” which contains my favourite lyrics possibly of the year: “nobody butters me up like you and nobody fucks me like me”. Moving towards dissonant 90’s pop rock “Remember My Name” is an angry cry for help whilst the deceptively happy “Me and My husband” reminds me of early Blur with that brand of clumsy pop-rock. Smokey blues takes a short visit with “Come into the Water” before the heartwrenching yet utterly danceable disco-pop of “Nobody” is fabulously lightweight yet disarmingly honest.
We’re now passed 20 minutes – just. Take a breath with the Cocteau Twins like “Pink in the Light” – full of guitar and vocal reverb and circular hooks before the dark and unsettlingly off-key “A Horse Named Cold Air” removes almost all the fanfare and focusses on a haunting melody and rousing vocal performance. “Washing Machine Heart” plays with synth rock in a way that Garbage does with their mid-tempo songs and is another favourite before the raucous “Blue Light” and utterly beautiful synth orchestra ballad “Two Slow Dancers” round off a cataclysm of an album – the latter track being a real tear-jerker.
Then its over. Breathe. Press repeat.
“Be The Cowboy” is an absolute tour de force and the perfect example of how to play ALL OF THE GENRES you want in a cohesive way that makes sense not just per song, but as an album package too. I feel like after a few listens I’m still discovering new things and yet feel like the album has been in my life as a treasure for ages. Mitski has created a truly remarkable album and it will be right up there come my end of year favourites list.
Recommended track: Why Didn’t You Stop Me?
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