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An Essential Mitski Primer – The New York Times

Mitski’s music occasionally contains a faint country influence, albeit filtered through her own distinct sensibility. I hear some of that on this lovely ballad from the new album, but I also hear Mitski experimenting with sounds she hasn’t before explored on her records, like chamber-pop grandiosity and soaring orchestral accompaniments. (Listen on YouTube)

The country influence is more pronounced here, on this galloping ditty from the aptly named 2018 album “Be the Cowboy.” So is Mitski’s wry sense of humor: “In the morning, in a taxi I am so very paying for.” (Listen on YouTube)

Here is my favorite song from Mitski’s previous album, “Laurel Hell,” which has the slightly misleading reputation as her happiest, poppiest release. (The opening track, “Valentine, Texas,” is one of many brooding songs that complicate that understanding.) On this song Mitski demonstrates how much depth she can mine from a seemingly simple lyric and a satisfying chord progression. “Open up your heart, like the gates of hell,” she sings, a perfect encapsulation of her macabre take on romance. (Listen on YouTube)

This glistening, disco-kissed confession of loneliness is perhaps Mitski’s best-known song, thanks to its unexpected popularity on TikTok. “I don’t get it, but it’s nice!” Mitski told me last year, when asked about her fame on the app, which she is not on, herself. “All of the businesspeople are like, ‘This is so great!’ And I’m like, ‘Please stop texting me these TikToks.’” (Listen on YouTube)

An early example, from “Bury Me at Makeout Creek,” of Mitski’s command of pop melody, “Francis Forever” charts the emotional and physical restlessness that comes from missing someone: “I don’t know what to do without you,” Mitski croons, “I don’t know where to put my hands.” (Listen on YouTube)

I love the rough-hewed texture and unrelenting fury of this highlight from “Puberty 2,” which plays out like a stream-of-consciousness airing of quarter-life grievances: “I wanna see the whole world!/I don’t know how I’m gonna pay rent!” Each line is delivered with the urgency of an inebriated epiphany shouted at a close friend during the waning hours of a house party. (Listen on YouTube)

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