Whether it is sitting behind the piano, ratcheting a distorted electric guitar, or scratching a synthesizer, Mitski Miyawaki – or simply Mitski – has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to make personal vulnerability sound bold and, thus, something to not fear. As she showed on Puberty 2, she wore it like a badge of honor, revealing to the world she was unafraid of its existence and how it defined her. On her fifth album, Be the Cowboy, she further spirals into humanity’s emotional complexity and delivers a riveting and extraordinary record. One that is unquestionably one of the top 2 or 3 albums of the year.

Be the Cowboy effortlessly moves between the cinematic, the exuberant, and heart-ripping ballads. Behind the musical intricacies, the LP revolves two main themes – love and self-identity, which often intertwine, such as on the soul-ripping “Geyser”, which is an unpredictable display of chaotic wonderment. While “Geyser” swells, closer “Two Slow Dancers” flickers like the flame that still burns inside two former high-school sweethearts.

The lustful “Come into the Water”, the groovy and whimsical “Washing Machine Heart”, the alt-country ditty, “Lonesome Love”, further reveal Mitski’s brilliant yet wide-ranging artistic mastery. Then there is the catchy “Nobody”. One part Donna Summer, another part Barry Manilow, a touch of St. Vincent, and 100% Mitski ambition, the Brooklyn-based artist delivers an alt-pop, disco gem. It’s just one jewel in a treasure full of them on Be The Cowboy, which is one that will be remembered for ages.

Be The Cowboy is out on Dead Oceans, and it is also available on Bandcamp.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here. The final 25 of our Favorite Albums, meanwhile, is available here

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