Mitski
Puberty 2


4.0
excellent

Review

by David USER (53 Reviews)
July 17th, 2016 | 59 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If I could...

Whenever I think of puberty, I'm immediately gripped by an unshakable dread. My formative years, like those of many others, were plagued with loneliness, regret, and a distinct personal hatred that colored everything a dull grey. The specter of personal disdain is attached to puberty almost by definition, and the travails of nascent adults trying to make sense of themselves and others has given birth to hundreds of musical styles and subgenres. All of that is to say that the subject has been thoroughly and exhaustively explored, and saying something new or interesting on the subject seems near impossible. With this in mind, Mitski's Puberty 2 defies all expectation or logic by being something daring, unique, and, above all, essential.

Part of this uniqueness is Mitski herself. Her voice holds an amazingly versatile cadence, one that shifts effortlessly between hard-nosed pop rocker and vulnerable girl-group member. She's credible both in snarl and swoon, and this gives her songs a baseline emotional core. Her voice also works to give her lyrics--which trend towards the resigned and confessional--grit. When her voice cracks ever so slightly in the lead up to the chorus of "Crack Baby," there's a palpable sense of longing that belies the song's resigned lyrics and dour composition. When she says she's "not even a star" on "Your Best American Girl" (a song so good it makes the entire album worth buying), the self-deprecation emerges as something more rounded, more three-dimensional. Mitski's use of her voice as both a delivery method for the lyrics and as an additional (sometimes contradictory) emotional layer is something to marvel, especially in an age where rock music's premier vocalists tend to eschew nuance in favor of stadium-filling vocal runs and soaring choruses.

That's not to say that "Puberty 2" doesn't pack a punch. Lead single "Your Best American Girl," one of this year's best songs, boasts an A1 verse-chorus composition. The dynamic composition makes it extremely catchy, and I'm surprised (and a bit worried) that it's not made a stronger play for "Song of the Summer." "Dan the Dancer" also has the kind of raucous composition that begs for continuous radio play. These songs share a similar alt-rock feel, but they far from define the entire album. Softer moments lend the album a varied, if uneven, palette. "Crack Baby" and "A Burning Hill" swap out amped guitars and live drums for synths and drum machines, and the switch creates an intimacy and sobriety that the more poppy cuts lack.

But this variety may be the album's biggest weakness. Despite the eclectic set of songs, the album never quite sells a complete narrative idea. The title itself sells the idea of a more explicit narrative slant, and the album never delivers. It doesn't help that the album's criminally short--clocking in at a little over 30 minutes--and this brevity makes it feel more like a highlights playlist cut from a longer, more complete album. It can, and should, be argued that a short playlist of good-to-great songs is still a collection of good-to-great songs.

While "Puberty 2" is too short and too scattershot to be an instant classic (as many other reviews have hailed it to be), it does stand as one of this year's best rock albums. I've tried to go through this review without talking about Mitski's unique position as an Asian-American woman in a white-male-dominated industry (an attribute she herself brings up frequently in interviews and on Twitter), but it must be noted, if only as another point in the album's favor. Mitski has made a record that lends voice to a particular experience and particular subject position that rarely if ever gets a popular platform in rock music. She talks about her coming to grips with her identity, her depression, her troubles, and her triumphs, and she does so in a way that no other person in contemporary rock music does. That alone makes "Puberty 2" worth a spin, if not hundreds more.



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user ratings (159)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
davidwave4
July 17th 2016


90 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The long awaited pretentious review has arrived! Try not to be too rough on me, the world needs some kindness...

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2016


6088 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

"subject position tat rarely"

- missing an H, you complete and utter buffoon

brandontaylor
July 17th 2016


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

review is good but a bit scattershot, a lot of good points are made but they arent really linked together. that being said, im really glad this album finally has a review, especially one that does it justice. pos.

FreddieDelaney31
July 17th 2016


2889 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is such a stunning album

Digging: Paramore - After Laughter

RadicalEd
July 18th 2016


8204 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

stunningly average.

Digging: Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now

davidwave4
July 18th 2016


90 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@JohnnyOnTheSpot Nice catch on the H. Not sure if the buffoon thing is a joke, but if it isn't I don't know what to tell you. Your opinion of me is a lot like "tat" in that it's missing something crucial for it to be coherent.

AsleepInTheBack
July 18th 2016


3518 Comments


Ridiculously good review man, pos'd. Will have to check this out

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2016


6088 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

@david - it was a joke in regards to your first comment imploring readers to be reasonable and nice, I'm sure you're a sharp cookie

davidwave4
July 21st 2016


90 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@JohnnyOnTheSpot Sorry I missed that. Good on you for the funny.

Aids
July 22nd 2016


24389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yayyy a thread for this!



I gotta say, I like Bury Me At Makeout Creek more, but this one is stunning. Has some really arresting tracks.



Saw her live recently and she ended with Last Words of a Shooting Star and you could hear a pin drop. It was magnificent.



Mitski is lord.

AmericanFlagAsh
July 31st 2016


8214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Such a lovely album

Digging: Perfume Genius - No Shape

rabidfish
August 4th 2016


2474 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's weird, this sounds like something I might really like, but this lp in particular just isn't quite making it for me... I'm intrigued to find out if her other records are better, tho.

Digging: Bitchin' Bajas and Bonnie 'Prince - Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties

brandontaylor
August 6th 2016


488 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@rabidfish I'd listen to bury me at makeout creek. I personally prefer this more but that album is fantastic too and probably a bit more fleshed out.

Aids
August 7th 2016


24389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yeah Bury Me at Makeout Creek is better I think but if you are whatever about this you'll probably be whatever bout that one

TheWrenKing
August 7th 2016


1375 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

iiiiiii bet on looosing dogs

Digging: Six Organs Of Admittance - Burning the Threshold

ashcrash9
August 7th 2016


2337 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice stuff, but I don't get why all the 4.5+s itt

AmericanFlagAsh
August 25th 2016


8214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow this is so overlooked. Fireworks is my life.

Sinternet
August 25th 2016


13417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah this was ignored for some reason





rules hard

Digging: Dad Thighs - The Ghosts That I Fear

RadicalEd
August 25th 2016


8204 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

bores hard you mean.

Sinternet
August 25th 2016


13417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no i dont mean that your opinion is bad



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