You would be mistaken if you were to listen to any song on Be the Cowboy on the radio and think it was from a musical. Mitski’s fifth studio offering is a theatrical affair that has you plugged into every word and emotion she exudes and, with the album barely eclipsing the 30-minute mark, there is little time for an interlude.
The Japanese-born New York-based artist explores a litany of themes: loneliness, lust, loss and revelation. These themes are intricately interweaved as not only is Mitski’s lyrical genius exposed, but also is her musical competence which flawlessly accompanies her effortless vocals.
Leadoff single ‘Geyser’ captures the numerous emotions that Mitski conveys on this album in a concise two-and-a-half-minute song, singing about a love that seems unrequited and giving everything and nothing all at once. It sets the tone for what follows in the album, which is essentially a mood transposed into an album of music.
Following her recent stint supporting Melodrama queen, Lorde, Be the Cowboy takes inspiration in that it sounds more like a pop album than an alternative album while retaining the depth that gives it its dignity. Be the Cowboy’s ambience is so versatile that it wouldn’t look out of place being performed in an arena or the local hip coffee shop late on a Tuesday night. This album will either have you dancing around in your bedroom in a hazy happiness, or have you crying in a heap in the corner, or better yet, both.
A brilliant example is in the second single released form the album ‘Nobody’ which is a song that could get heads bopping at a disco with its upbeat synths and anthemic chorus that would make it difficult for the least inclined of us to stay still, while at the same time wresting with the idea of wanting something and it being so little and so big simultaneously.
The crème de la crème of Be the Cowboy is perhaps saved to the very end, where listeners are treated to a minimalistic ballad that could well easily soundtrack a sad, dramatic finale of an indie flick. ‘Two Slow Dancers’ is a reminiscence of two former lovers who meet again in an old gymnasium.
In the title of the new LP Be the Cowboy, Mitski is encouraging us to be the cowboy, be the lead in our own stories, go west, wander, and find ourselves a little. The stories (Or songs, rather) dwell on the past, but also use the past to help the characters remain optimistic.
Be the Cowboy is out now at all good record stores, streaming services and online.
You can watch the video to ‘Nobody’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qooWnw5rEcI
Mitski will be playing live at these cities in the EU:
Paris, France – 18 September
Manchester, UK – 19 September
Glasgow, UK – 20 September
Dublin, Ireland – 22 September
Leeds, UK – 24 September
Bristol, UK – 25 September
London, UK – 26 September
Paris, France – 28 September
Borgerhout, Belgium – 29 September
Cologne, Germany – 1 October
Berlin, Germany – 4 October
Copenhagen, Denmark – 5 October
Hamburg, Germany – 6 October
WRITTEN BY DECLAN GODFREY