Mitski: Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024  


Puberty 2

Dead Oceans

Jul 06, 2016 Mitski Bookmark and Share

Though the album’s title bills it as a sequel of sorts to puberty, Mitski’s Puberty 2 would perhaps be better titled as “puberty infinity.” Its explorations of the ways humans love each other, hurt one another and balance soaring happiness with crippling sadness (often brought on by some manifestation of mental illness) suggest the highs and lows of puberty aren’t a one time thing felt by teenagersor even a second thing felt by confused 20-somethings. What Puberty 2 so expertly unearths is the fact that the uncertainty of puberty basically just means you’re alive.

That exploration alone would make Puberty 2 an interesting album, but Mitski Miyawaki’s songwriting prowess makes it into something special. In a terrific interview with The Ringer’s Lindsay Zolodz, Mitski said she feels like current feminism is a bit one-dimensionalthat lost among the “yas kween slay” rhetoric is the knowledge that, in her words, “you can be a woman and also be really fucked up.” If her mission is to restore that knowledge and freedom, with Puberty 2 she’s done so elegantly. Indie music is often the playground of the privileged white guys having a mid-20s breakdown or saying Very Important ThingsTM, and there’s something very refreshing in Mitski’s ability to spin those tropes on their head.

It also helps that her songs are bangers. “Your Best American Girl” would be a great song solely on the strength of its lyrics (“I guess I couldn’t help trying to be your best American girl” she sings to an all-American boy), but those crunchy guitarsand the way the feedback howls with anticipation in the backgroundhark back to the very best of alternative rock of the early ‘90s. Album opener “Happy” explodes with cascading saxophones at the end to accompany its steady rhythmic churn. “Fireworks” is a taut acoustic strum that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Neutral Milk Hotel album, and songs like “Crack Baby” and “A Burning Hill” are perfect examples of a mid-tempo and ballad, respectively, to ground the album.

The album also contains plenty of humor to keep things from being too heady. “I wanna see the whole world/but I don’t know how I’m gonna pay rent/I wanna see the whole world” she warbles on “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars.” And “I told him I’d do anything to have him stay with me/so he laid me down and I felt Happy come inside of me” is the sly joke that opens the entire album. Sure, there’s plenty of pain on Puberty 2, but if you can’t laugh at the weirdness of puberty, what’s the point?

“I am a forest fire, and I am the fire, and I am the forest and I am the witness watching it,” she sings on “A Burning Hill.” Has there ever been a more poignant reflection on someone realizing they’re not okay but not really sure how to deal with that fact? What makes Puberty 2 so important isn’t its new perspectives on femininity in America, or relationships, or cultural identity (though it has a lot of vital things to say on all of those issues); it’s in its admission that sometimes we don’t have it all together and that maybe by knowing the disaster is about to strike, we can maybe, just maybe, be a little more okay each time it happens. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 8/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.