No matter what character you wish you were from The Simpsons, there comes a time in everyone’s life when we realize we’re Milhouse and we’ve always been Milhouse. A 90’s kid herself, Mitski knows the feeling all too well, having to juggle with growing up and dealing with complex emotions like any post-pubescent young-adult, even having to go through it twice. A joke, of course no one actually goes through puberty twice, but the feeling of it is there on Mitski’s fourth record, Puberty 2.
Like Milhouse, there is no subtlety. Mitski’s character is also uncompromisingly and exactly herself. It’s raw, honest, vulnerable, and holds just the right amount of duels between fantasy and reality that it comes off quirky yet charming. In the particular Simpsons episode referenced, Milhouse thinks his vision is healed after a fake healing ritual, breaks out into song and dance, is promised romance, and then gets hit by a truck. His last words: “bury me at Makeout Creek.” While it just so happens to be the episode that sparked the name of her previous record, the follow-up, Puberty 2, still holds the same feeling, just like any sequel should.
Like I said, Puberty 2 is all the record’s title suggests. At age 26 (25 at the time of Puberty 2‘s release), Mitski feels like she’s becoming an adult all over again. Her song topics range from broken romances to dealing with depression, living in fantasy, feeling anxious at interviews, and taking it all day by day—the Milhouse mantra. With multiple mentions of “finger kisses” and pinky promises like on “Once More to See You,” the cuteness of the record is equally matched with the dark and depressing, such as the Weeknd-opposing “Thursday Girl” or “Fireworks.”
Her music can get a bit harsh, especially when it comes to the sound of screeching guitars, but it’s not a staple of her songwriting, where Mitski’s strength really lies. Lyrically, and compositionally, Mitski is a true great indie rock singer/songwriter, something that is seemingly coming around less and less these days (the recent only other of which I can think of being Courtney Barnett). The voice of the millennial generation or not, it’s a fitting end to Puberty 2 in which, unlike Milhouse getting hit by a truck while dreaming of “Makeout Creek” in an attempt to escape reality, Mitski learns to take control of her life simply by starting to appreciate the “littler things.”