MITSKI – Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans): Rest assured that if being the backup St. Vincent doesn’t pan out for Mitski Miyawaki, she can always eke out a living penning Haruki Murakami-esque short stories for The New Yorker. No, really. Her songs are tales of semi-depressive types, lonely hearts with sexual hang-ups encountering bizarre manifestations of emotions, with literary, flight of fancy titles like “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars.” But that’s unfair. Mitski oughtn’t to be compared to Annie Clarke or Kafka-esque writers. Being an artsy fartsy quirky type might not be as novel as it was earlier this century, but there’s nothing about her that’s put on—her weirdness isn’t an accessory, it’s her best attempt at communicating with a nominally normalized world things she feels very deeply, her best translation of numinous experiences into understandable parables.
Mitski’s world is one where “happiness” doubles as an occasional, fleeting visitor and the small emotional satisfaction and sense of security sex can temporarily elicit. A world where a lanky virgin finally practices “bedroom dancing” with someone other than his right hand. She willingly involves herself in losing dog relationships because she needs someone to look her in her eyes at climax. And as someone whose spouse is Americanized but not wholly American by either birthright or assimilation, a song like “Your Best American Girl” better realizes for me a struggle I witness and empathize with and in some ways fully recognize as my own every single day, regardless of how literally she means it to be taken
Puberty 2 is exactly what it sounds like. Your first round is as a budding teenager, coming to understand what it means that your body can be used as a sexual object. The second round, then, comes with emotional maturity, figuring out what to do with that sexual body of yours, and how to manage the perilous tightrope walk above a two-sided pit containing all the side effects sex in and out of a relationship can wreak—happiness, loneliness, ecstasy, humiliation, intimacy, fear, and love. That first round of puberty is learning how to come. The second is learning how to go, if you need to. A MINUS