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CD of The Week

Week of 7/25/16

    Mitski - Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans)

    Growing up isn't easy. It's hard, painful, and often terrifying. A lot of us know this. What a lot of us don't know, or at least try not to, is that the process never ends. Like the killer in a horror movie, it always gets back up and chases you anew. Mitski Miyawaki knows, though. Boy does she ever. After chronicling all of the sex, alcohol, and wandering off alone that comes with the first taste of adulthood on 2014's Bury Me at Makeout Creek, she follows it with the inevitable stalk and haunt of real world consequence with Puberty 2, a sublime sequel that succeeds by showing this monster in minute but vivid detail.

    Opener 'Happy' sets the tone immediately with an anxious drum loop. It proceeds to spin a narrative of a hookup that feels good in the moment but leaves emptiness in its wake as those drums sprout a catchy start/stop melody and ironically jaunty saxophone solo. The theme of feeling good now only to feel worse later keeps popping up throughout the album. 'I Bet on Losing Dogs' is sung from the narrative of someone who finds themselves constantly drawn to someone they can't (or shouldn't) be with, knowing full well that the cycle of disappointment will begin again as soon as she recovers from the last one. This tragedy is rendered titanic by a gorgeous organ solo and crescendo worthy of Teen Dream-era Beach House.

    Had Mitski stayed universal in her lyricism, Puberty 2 would already be a triumph. But she also goes more personal, factoring her Asian heritage into album (and year) standout 'Your Best American Girl,' a crushing lament about being in a relationship with an 'all American boy' and the concessions and self-acceptance that come during and after that. This story comes soundtracked by the fuzziest, crunchiest controlled climax of an indie rock song in recent memory.

    To reveal more highlights (and there are plenty) would be spoiling, not that this is a story where spoilers are relevant. Anyone who has lived through the horror or had to make any go at 'adulting' will know exactly what Mitski is talking about on Puberty 2 before she finishes. They'll see it lurking in the shadows. She hits nerves that a lot of us forget or fail to realize we have, and makes us feel stronger when she does. We'll all need that strength when the real world stands back up and comes chasing again. Which reminds me, I'm late for work.
    Review by Rob Huff

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