On “Puberty 2” Mitski never cedes the identity of her songs too quickly. Instead, the listener begins to realize how each song is going to operate as it moves along. On “Once More to See You,” mysterious beginnings evolve into a balladic state. On the next song, chugging guitars build a foundation for Mitski to amass a hit single. Through the use of unpredictable vocal melodies, lush instrumentation, and dark production, Mitski comes through with a particularly mature record that keeps its audience guessing throughout.
Perhaps the way each song reveals itself is accomplished through its wide array of instrumentation. On album opener “Happy,” a saxophone comes into the picture late in the game to bring a soaring melody into the picture. “Your Best American Girl” becomes a heavy power pop tune through the use of a distorted vocal effect. The keyboards on “Thursday Girl” complement a beautiful slow moving melody from Mitski. All of the different instruments are combined perfectly in the production providing an extraordinarily mature sound.
Lyrically, the album weaves various metaphors and narratives giving way to Mitski’s internal conflicts. “Happy” addresses the emotion as a character that Mitski communicates with. In doing so she implies that happiness is something that comes to her not something constantly part of her life. Despite the optimistic melody, the song becomes particularly dark with lines like “I’d do anything to have him stay with me” and “I was in the bathroom/I didn’t hear him leave” implying that happy is a difficult thing for Mitski to find.
Overall, I had a great first experience with the album. I found it to be an unpredictable rock record with a tun of contrast. Despite only lasting 30 minutes, Mitski is a true songwriting talent with a unique voice.