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Be The Cowboy Zara Hedderman , August 14th, 2018 17:49

She’s moving on, she’s getting serious, she’s feeling love

On 2016’s Puberty 2, Mitski’s power-pop-punk and indie melodies, coupled with the lyrical themes of isolation and longing, catered to a tween audience. Things have changed considerably since then, with help from producer Patrick Hyland, and she has found a cleaner pop sound. The arrangements are more accomplished, their intricacies clearer with each listen, and the inspirations are more elegant too. There’s still heartache and loneliness here but it’s softer - a lovelorn vulnerability that has a more lasting effect.

On ‘Pink in the Pink’, melancholy hangs over gleaming guitar licks and a throbbing heartbeat of drum and cymbals; ‘A Horse Named Cold Air’ (that title fit for an Edgar Allen Poe short story) is a pared back melody of heavy piano-playing with spectral synths and exquisite vocals. Counteracting these sombre tones are broody guitar riffs, jaunty 1980s synth lines and sharp percussive patterns. ‘Nobody’ has the hallmarks of a perfect pop song: infectious hook, juxtaposition of carefree instrumentation and lyrics bred by insecurity (“Still nobody wants me”) culminating with a wistful key change. It's the unrivalled highlight of the album. ‘Lonesome Love’ gives a nod to 1960s love songs and takes bittersweet approach to romantic pursuits (“Nobody butters me up like you, and no one fucks me like I do”).

On lead single ‘Geyser’, Mitski declares “You’re my number one / You’re the one I want,” over and over again - she has said that the “you” in her lyrics is not a singular person but music itself, and that feeling makes sense in this song and on this album. Mitski’s devotion to music has resulted in a tremendously earnest and endearing record.