“Happiness fucks you.” That’s the statement that comes attached with Mitski‘s new album Puberty 2. Her opening track Happy is deceptive in its title but very much sums up the ethos of the high-and-low bartering we all do with our emotions on a daily basis.
Like all of us, Mitski Miyawaki’s experience of happiness is a cold and all too familiar one – “I felt happy come inside of me” she sings, only to find that, surprise surprise, the guy’s a cunt and has done a runner. But bitterness doesn’t look good on anyone, neither does desperation, and Mitski somehow treads the line perfectly thanks to a melodic and longing chorus. “If you’re going take the train so I can hear it rumble, one last rumble/ And when you go take this heart, I’ll make no more use of it when there’s no more you.”
Even amid the more refined production, there’s still something delightfully raw about Miyawaki’s approach here, the grungey feel of Dan the Dancer balancing rather beautifully with the open-heart balladry of Once More To See You. On the latter, Miyawaki gently mines the melodies of her Japanese heritage, updated with a lurching and elegiac guitar progression; elsewhere her accomplishments as a storyteller multiply on songs like Fireworks and I Bet On Losing Dogs, peaking with the haunting coos of Crack Baby (“you don’t know what you want, but you know that you want it, and you know that you need it”)
It’s obvious that Miyawaki has been hurt, and that the dance of ups and downs has been an exhausting one. But like the title of the record suggests, she seems to have found a transitional middle ground. Arguably we’re all going through a delayed maturity, with breakups and setbacks sending us back to the rollercoaster of emotions we thought we’d dispensed with. Miyawaki takes an unapologetic ownership of Puberty 2, and her truths are something we can all take home.