8Tracks Review: ‘Be the Cowboy’ by Mitski

Be the Cowboy by Mitski
Dead Oceans, 2018

I haven’t told anyone

Mitzki (Miyawaki)’s new album dropped August 17 and I planned to review it last week, but you know.  Crazy Rich Asians.  This one got a ton of advance buzz, partly because of a couple of advance singles but also because it feels like it’s time for everyone who doesn’t know Mitski to get on.

That pretty friend is finally yours

    1. Geyser (2:23)
    2. Why Didn’t You Stop Me? (2:21)
    3. Old Friend (1:52)
    4. A Pearl (2:36)
    5. Lonesome Love (1:50)
    6. Remember My Name (2:15)
    7. Me and My Husband (2:17)
    8. Come into the Water (1:32)
    9. Nobody (3:13)
    10. Pink in the Night (2:16)
    11. A Horse Named Cold Air (2:03)
    12. Washing Machine Heart (2:08)
    13. Blue Light (1:43)
    14. Two Slow Dancers (3:59)

Someone who loves me now

The songs are short: at 3:59, “Two Slow Dancers” is the longest by far, and most songs stay around the two-minute mark.  This makes the album move quickly, almost frantically, yet they’re varied enough that each song sticks out in a way I wouldn’t have predicted.  I want to drive around the entire island of Oahu with the top down and this album on repeat.

Be the Cowboy‘s sound is indie as heck.  It’s going to remind you a bit of the Duke Spirit, a bit of the Raveonettes, and in the less rocking songs, a lot of Zooey Deschanel in She & Him.  There’s a lot of great retro rock organ with distant, singing in a shower, reverberating vocal production with a lot of muted drumming on what sounds sometimes like a three-piece kit.

I imagine many will disagree with me, but Mitski’s at her best when she’s rocking out.  “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?” and “A Pearl” stand out this way.

Although it’s probably not for everyone, this is some good stuff, and it would be a shame to let it fly under the radar, which it could easily do.

I’ll take anything you want to give me

Best song: “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?”
Second-best song: “Remember My Name”
Fourteenth-best song: “Two Slow Dancers”
Best moment: Oh man, I love the electric guitar on “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?” which has a really cool downward bend that sounds like a spaceship giving up.  This is tied with the sigh Mitski opens “Me and My Husband” with.
Best lyric: It seems like too easy a choice, but I keep going back to “Nobody butters me up like you / and nobody f*cks me like me,” in “Lonesome Love,” one of the Zooey-sounding songs.  The repeated “Why am I lonely for lonesome love?” to end the song may be in a twelve-way tie for second.
Song to make you text your ex (don’t do it!):  “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?”
Song to make you write song lyrics out of something you put in your Xanga when you were 16 (do it!):  “Lonesome Love.”

Rating: 8/10


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About Mitchell K. Dwyer

@scrivener likes movies.
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