There is a note of comfort in the sound of anguish. The moment Mitski Miyawaki’s distorted wail on “Drunk Walk Home” hits my ears, I’m in heaven. Not because it’s at her expense, but rather because I empathize deeply. I often find myself drawn to emotion captured in music, and that’s a key aspect of whatever I listen to. This is the kind of music that makes me so passionate about the subject in the first place, and so assured on my own path as a musician. That shriek is but one of many other brilliant moments on Mitski’s third record Bury Me at Make Out Creek (a nice nod to The Simpsons), easily the best from this SUNY Purchase artist.
Mitski’s music has remained as wholly beautiful, raw and vulnerable as it was on her last record, the brilliant Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. What has changed here is the aural dress she wears: now poppier, grungier, and rockier than before, as a reflection of this new partnership with the Double Double Whammy team. Mitski is a woman well aware of her emotions, and the strength of her desires, as she sings on “Townie”: “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony/I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground.” She is a woman who can sing about extremes, a woman caught between the throes of love and death. Maybe a death of a former self. But more importantly to prove the range of emotion that one can feel when falling in love, and the frustration of inaction and constancy. The song concludes on a beautifully brash epiphany, one that communicates a sense of self-reliance: “I’m gonna be what my body wants me to be.” In many ways, this is a coming-of-age record, mainly of coming into your twenties. “I was so young when I behaved 25/Yet now I find I’ve grown into a child,” Mitski states on single “First Love/Late Spring.” It’s a clever commentary on feeling more mature than your age when you’re younger, and suddenly not feeling mature enough when you get older.
There is a great range here, right from the delicate opening of “Texas Reznikoff” to the sheer noise that soon follows when the rest of the band kicks in. Mitski communicates a feral power on “Drunk Walk Home”, where her scream becomes digital noise, almost akin to the same noise that begins “Townie”. She has a knack for making the dark sound gorgeous. On album closer “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” she declares “And I am relieved that I left my room tidy/They’ll think of me kindly when they come for my things.” Sure, what she’s saying is heavy, but the way she sings it could easily deceive you.
This is an album of contrast, where beauty is found within anguish and darkness. All emotions are beautiful, and Bury Me at Make Out Creek proves that. With a voice that recalls the coos and warbles of Annie Clark and Angel Olsen, Mitski has become a recent favorite and a great inspiration to me. The woman who reminded me that “being an artist is putting your head down and doing the work,” that the whole point of being a creator is to create. True to her words, her next record will be released on Don Giovanni Records, and it will be eagerly anticipated.
Key tracks: “Texas Reznikoff”, “Townie”, “First Love/Late Spring”, “Drunk Walk Home”, “I Will”,
“Carry Me Out”
Where to Go from Here: Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness, St. Vincent – Marry Me, Sharon Van Etten – Tramp