Puberty 2

(Dead Oceans)


Overly emotional. Melodramatic. Self-doubting. Obsessive. Crushingly melancholic out of nowhere. You remember puberty, and I’m guessing you don’t fancy another go at it. But then there’s Mitski Miyawaki’s fourth album of fuzzed-up, post-grunge indie, the sort once found on MTV2; itself as nostalgic as reading your horoscope for some kind of clue that xxxxxxxx will shag you because of your new Kickers. ‘Puberty 2’ features all of those teenage troughs, and the confusing, thrilling peaks too – the starry eyes, manic ambition and constant distraction of sex (overtly felt from the very start of opening track ‘Happy’ and more playfully so in the operatic, brilliantly overblown ‘Best American Girl’, which compares lovers to a couple of spoons).

The most embarrassing thing about puberty, though, isn’t so much in these rapid mood swings but in how impossible they are to express at the time. Now in her 30s, it’s what Mitski – a past composition scholar, and it shows – does so well, via shifting subtleties within the confines of alt-rock. She remains plugged in throughout, even at her most sober, and by being more Portishead than Breeders, ‘Crack Baby’ helps give her the edge over other US artists also revisiting their formative years, like Waxahatchee and Speedy Ortiz. But you don’t need to imagine you’re a teen again to get ‘Puberty 2’ – rather accept that in some ways you still are one.