Be the Cow­boy (Dead Oceans) AL­BUM OF THE WEEK

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - & -

Ja­panese-Amer­i­can singer Mitski Miyawaki has had an ex­cep­tion­ally no­madic life to date, rarely set­tling in one place and al­ways rest­lessly seek­ing out the next — just like the cow­boy al­luded to in the ti­tle.

This, her fifth al­bum, ex­am­ines the pluses and mi­nuses of such a tran­sient life­style and writes about love and re­la­tion­ships with rare clar­ity. These are in­ti­mate songs that show a poet’s at­ten­tion to de­tail and there are ob­ser­va­tions and ad­mis­sions that stop you in your tracks. There are con­fes­sional songs, and then there are Mitski’s: con­sider ‘No­body’ and its frank truths about iso­la­tion. “My God, I’m so lonely,” she says. “So I open the win­dow to hear the sounds of peo­ple.” The mu­sic is just as al­lur­ing as her words, whether this clas­si­cally trained fig­ure is favour­ing a spare ar­range­ment or a max­i­mal­ist ap­proach and sev­eral songs, not least ‘Blue Light’, boast a sonic back­drop as ar­rest­ing as the lyrics. “Some­body kiss me,” she sings. “I’m go­ing crazy/ I’m walk­ing around the house naked”. Else­where, there’s a be­guil­ing 1980s synth sound to ‘Wash­ing Ma­chine Heart’ and a coun­try­fied feel to ‘Come into the Wa­ter’ and while there’s a wide range of styles and in­flu­ences, Be the Cow­boy never loses its co­he­sive­ness. It’s a mar­vel­lous al­bum, one of the very best to be re­leased this year to date.

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