Mitski’s fifth album brings artist to the forefront of indie music

Mitski's fifth album brings artist to the forefront of indie music

Abby Tow, Managing Editor

Twenty-seven-year-old Mitski, the singer, songwriter, and musician, has graced us yet again with her fifth studio album, Be the Cowboy. The 14-track rock album explores sides of Mitski we haven’t heard since her third album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, which was gritty, dissonant, and far less pop-based than her second album, Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. In her latest work, Mitski blends the two styles into one highly melodic but still aggressively authentic collection of songs.

Mitski’s music redefines her genre (as if she could ever fit into one) every time she puts out new music. She is doing for alternative rock what Patti Smith did for punk — in other words, she is constantly evolving how we see the genre in the context of the times. Mitski’s unique orchestration features trumpets, strings, and computer static, as well as some of the most brilliant song writing of her generation.

In the new album’s closing track, “Two Slow Dancers,” Mitski cuts straight to bone, no time for the formality of muscle and skin. At the close of the chorus, she sings, “But as it is, and  it is,” holding a mirror to her audiences realities as she often does in her lyrics. Her songs read like diary entries — no fluff, no rhymes for the sake of rhymes, no prepositions to fill space. She is honest and truthful, singing, “I could stare at your back all day. And I know I’ve kissed you before, but I didn’t do it right,” drawing us close to her personal narrative as any good novel does.

Mitski’s lense strikes me as uniquely feminist, honest about how men shape her perceptions and how they affect her, but also refusing to be ashamed for the infatuation and love she can experience as a woman. Be the Cowboy is music to both dance and cry to, precisely what makes music good. You feel it, plain and simple. And it doesn’t beg for your approval.

This album has already produced several hits and is gaining more online listeners for the singer than ever before. Its catchy phrases and melodies attract casual radio listeners while also satisfying music geeks with her vocal acrobatics and clever orchestration. Overall, I would suggest any fan of punk, alternative rock, or indie pop to check out this album. While it loses some of her past garage band aesthetics to a smoother, more streamlined sound, it still delivers the intensity she is known for and the musical maturity of a seasoned professional. This album will definitely be considered a landmark not only in her career, but also in the history of alternative rock.