Review: Mitski, behind the lyrics


Mitsuki Laycock is a 32-year-old indie alternative artist. All of Mitskis’s songs have stories of the beautiful but tragic realities of life described in such a poetic way. 

She is Japanese and white and due to her father’s job, she moved around quite a bit. She grew up in Japan, Malaysia, China, Turkey, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mitski was originally going to study film at Hunter College but decided to transfer to The State University of New York Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied studio composition. This is also when she made two of her albums Lush (2012) and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business (2013). 

All of Mitski’s songs have deep meanings. A personal favorite is “A Burning Hill” from the Puberty 2 album. This song describes realizing how she is finally taking responsibility for her self-destruction. She uses a forest fire as an analogy, “I am a forest fire, And I am the fire and I am the forest and I am the witness watching it, I stand in the village watching it.” Where the song is placed places a significant role, it is the last song in the album. 

Core themes in this album are emptiness, filling the void, and bringing yourself back up. Being full of the emptiness and not knowing where it is precisely from, but that that you are being consumed by it. To fill the emptiness, abusing substances or seeking validation from other people fills the void but makes you angry and even more empty because you find your happiness depending on your partner or the substance. It shows stepping back and seeing the damage that has been done, how you were the one hurting yourself all along. You finally realize that you are the only one that brings yourself back up, and the only way to do that is to be with yourself.

Another favorite in Puberty 2 is, “I bet on losing dogs.” The title itself has a big meaning on its own. Envision you are watching a dog fight, and your dog or the one that you are betting on is losing miserably. As you are seeing it slowly lose its life people ask if you are still betting on it. You and everyone around you know that the dog is going to lose but you will continue to bet on it.

One of the first lyrics in the song “ I know they’re losing and I pay for my place by the ring, where I’ll be looking in their eyes when they’re down, I’ll be there by their side, I’m losing by their side.” This makes the point of you trying to hold on to but you are slowly but surely losing grip. This message is repeated throughout the song in different words.

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