Ask Mitski Miyawaki about happiness and she’ll warn you: “Happiness can really fuck you.” It’s a lesson that’s been writ large into the New Yorker’s gritty outsider indie for years, but never so powerfully as on her newest album, Puberty 2. Puberty 2 is a beautiful and brutal romantic hinterland, in which one of the American east coast’s most fierce new voices hits a brave new stride.
The 25-year-old cuts the same defiant, feminist figure on Puberty 2 that won her acclaim last time around. Born in Japan, Mitski grew up surrounded by her father’s Smithsonian folk recordings and mother’s 1970s Japanese pop CDs in a family that moved frequently: she spent stints in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malaysia, China and Turkey among other countries before coming to New York to study composition at SUNY Purchase.
Musically, Puberty 2 has subtle evolutions: electronic drum pads pulse throughout, underneath fervent guitar lines. There are keyboards and organ sounds – even distorted saxophone played through a guitar amp. “I went out to tour [2014 album] Bury Me At Makeout Creek and started listening to other types of music more,” says says. “I felt less confined. I started exploring other types of music that I enjoy – particularly pop and hip-hop – and while I certainly wasn’t set on making a pop or hip-hop record, I did end up feeling more uninhibited and free in how I decided to express myself. At the end of the day, I think I’m a pop writer in that I feel like I’m very conscious of the pop song form, and the momentum in a song – in the sense of moving to a peak and evolving from there.”
Recorded with producer Patrick Hyland – with whom Mitski has worked solely with for several years – Puberty 2 is her most confident and ambitious record to date.introducing / mitski