Be the Cowboy (Dead Oceans) ALBUM OF THE WEEK
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.