I’m not going to sit here and say that I’ve been listening to Mitski since she was an unknown artist studying at Purchase College. I won’t lie and tell you I followed her slow yet constant movement from coffee shop player to releasing one of the most critically acclaimed albums of last year. I wish, but that’s not the case.
Unlike some of the lesser-known artists on this list, I hopped on the Mit-ski lift long after it left the lodge – in this case, a friend recommended her fifth and latest album, 2018’s “Be the Cowboy,” not long after its release. I was hooked. Mitski combined so many things I love about music into one album. Her lyrics were introspective and philosophical, yet simple. The instrumentation was complex and layered, but didn’t push its own limitations. “Be The Cowboy” ended up being my favorite album of last year, and ranks highly in my all-2010s list.
“Bury Me At Makeout Creek” might just be my favorite in her entire discography. Released five years ago yesterday, “Makeout Creek” takes its title from a throwaway Simpsons line, but its content is anything but funny.
Mitski’s third album, at just a half hour in length, is a manifestation of Mitski’s exhaustion.
Like her work before and after it, Mitski lays bare her complete exhaustion of modern romance. Love’s destructive nature shines through on many tracks of “Makeout Creek,” but perhaps none stronger than “Townie,” the second track on the album.
“And I want a love that falls as fast/As a body from the balcony, and/I want to kiss like my heart is hitting the ground,” sings Mitski, coupling the possibilities of young love with violence, as it’s often found.
This album displays Mitski’s utter and complete exhaustion of life. Composed just after her college graduation, Mitski was thrust into the uncertain world of making a living while being an independent musician. The pressure of being thrust into society shines through on “Jobless Monday,” a mid-album track which leads off with Mitski potentially predicting my future if the 2020 recession hits.
“It’s a windy afternoon/Can’t afford to buy my food/Or the drive I need to go/Further than they said I’d go.” The chaotic chords on the chorus underline Mitski’s economic uncertainty. Her stress and anxiety shine through not just the lyrics of the album, but the instrumentation as well. Mitski channels her rage into thrashing guitar, which she learned for this project.
By the end of the album, Mitski is tired of yelling and venting and shredding her guitar. She closes the album with “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” one of my favorite songs in her entire catalogue and one of the best album closers of all time. Mitski isn’t one for rhyming, and instead prefers to find the right words in lieu of synchronicity. In that sense, “Last Words” plays less like a song and more like a stream of consciousness poem written from a victim of an imminent plane crash to the void, waxing poetic about love, life and everything in between. Backing the track is Mitski’s acoustic guitar, and it needs nothing more.
“And you’d say you love me and look in my eyes/But I know through mine you were looking in yours,” Mitski says to an unknown lover. “I am relieved that I’d left my room tidy, goodbye,” Mitski sings as a descending drone signal the crashing of the plane.
This album only grows more dear to me as I inch closer and closer to the exciting and terrifying reality of graduation next year. As much as I hate to think about it, “Makeout Creek” is really about finding yourself: Romantically, spiritually and especially personally. College, and in a greater sense youth, is just a womb to encourage self-fulfillment. Odds are a good chunk of this album was written in Mitski’s final year of college in suburban New York, but there aren’t any songs on here called “I Hope I Can Scrape Out A B+ In Psych.” College is about that, but it’s really not. It’s about giving you space to make things like this album, and I can only hope to do something as magical as this in my first year in the real world.
Daniel Cohn is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.