Contrary to the viral sound on TikTok, in this life it’s not just me and Japanese-American indie pop singer Mitski against the world. Her songs sound like two words: depressing sludge. If you’re a fan of her, don’t stop reading; this article has a narrative arc, and the only way you’ll find out where it ends is if you keep reading.
Her voice is very smooth and her moody aesthetics are on point. She knows how to garner an audience, but I wasn’t in that crowd. There are only so many songs that have about 4 melancholy chords and one octave singing that I can bear. Plus, who knew that she was in the movie The Turning’s soundtrack, which accompanies a terrible movie with an even worse ending?
But the leaves started to change, metaphorically and physically. In September I pulled out my dramatic fall playlist (featuring artists such as Florence + The Machine, The Crane Wives, and Hozier) and got to walking around campus. But the sameness bore down on me. I needed to buff up my collection with interesting, mildly depressing songs. Then Mitski came to mind. If I was to be wistful (not quite “sad”), I would need to choose her as the woman to guide my soul. With this season came her newest album to date: The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We. If I was to be involved in her music anytime, it would be now.
I asked my friend one day about converting to the Mitski-dom (just for kicks and giggles), and her response entailed around fifteen heart emojis and plenty of customized recommendations. With her help, I fell upon “Townie” from her album Bury Me at Makeout Creek. First of all, is this an upbeat song from a not at all upbeat artist? I feel like I just came across an oasis. Also, this song has one of the most peculiar lyrics I’ve ever heard: “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony.” It’s powerful and paints a very vivid image. At last, my attitude began to shift. After more listening, finally, I saw the light. Of course “Washing Machine Heart” isn’t boring! There’s a reason why the song has more than 500,000,000 listens on Spotify.
But the “depressing sludge” I callously mentioned earlier came crawling to my attention. If I was to be a firm Mitski-dom believer, listening to these songs would be my next target. I would enjoy them so hard, and FOMO finally wouldn’t hit me with a baseball bat of shame. “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart” does not sound too heavy, yet the lyrics can hit home for anyone who can’t try hard enough in a relationship. But when “I Bet on Losing Dogs” and “Crack Baby” come up on my queue, I’m locking myself in my room and bawling.
Her music reminds me of when you ask someone what their favorite show is, and they respond with “BoJack Horseman”, and you are very concerned about their mental health. It’s not for everyone, but for those who want to go on the journey I embarked upon, the lyrics and production are very solid. We can find simplistic beauty in the couple of octaves she sings in. Some music is designed to be performed live, with plenty of miserable young folks (me included) screaming the lyrics to songs they can identify with. I may need to budget my money to pay my therapy bills, but I’ll be whistling her groovy tunes while I do it.