Inside the Mind of Mitski: The Brilliance of Her Discography

What makes Mitski such a popular artist? Learn more about her albums from debut to now.

Inside the Mind of Mitski: The Brilliance of Her Discography (Mauricio Santana via Getty Images)

From her genre-defying sound to her emotional candor and poetic lyrics, there is no artist that speaks to Gen Z more than Mitski Miyawaki. In a culture where open dialogue about mental health is more frequent, Mitski’s honesty and vulnerability in her music is a major contributor to her widespread popularity. Anyone going through or has gone through young adulthood can find themselves relating to her ever so pungent verses about struggling to find your way in the world or the longing to return to a love long gone

Now, Mitski is back with a new 11-track album, “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” releasing on Sept. 15th. Mitski has evolved with every new installation since writing “Bag of Bones” at 18, so let’s take a look back at all of Mitski’s albums:

Lush and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business (2012-13)

Mitski worked on “Lush and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business” during her time at SUNY Purchase as student projects which she would later self-release. These two works were foundational for her music style and displayed the true range of her abilities. While Lush possesses a darker and more atmospheric tone, the latter album is characterized by bright melodies and orchestral strings. 

Bury Me At Makeout Creek (2014)

Mitski continued to break barriers with the release of “Bury Me At Makeout Creek” in Nov. 11, 2014 under the Double Double Whammy label. Neglecting her prior style, she embraced a punk rock vibe, tailoring the album for energetic live performances. In an Interview Magazine feature, she described shedding her serious mindset and embracing authenticity, said, “These are my songs, I’m putting my heart into them… I was like, ‘Okay, let’s just have fun.’ It might not get heard, but whatever.’”

Puberty 2 (2016)

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but “Puberty 2” was recorded in just two weeks. Mitski captures the anxiety, relationship struggles, and angst of the teenage years reappearing once more in adulthood, hence, a second puberty. The album saw her refining and expanding upon her earlier works, emphasizing good recordings rather than live performances like on “Bury Me At Makeout Creek.” “Puberty 2” would gain massive critical acclaim with the lead single “Your Best American Girl” landing 13th on Rolling Stone’s Best Songs of the 2010’s.

Be the Cowboy (2018)

“Be The Cowboy,” released on Aug. 17, 2018, changed the way Mitski approached narratives in her music. The album takes its name from a mantra she often repeated to herself for self-confidence: “Be the cowboy you wish to see in the world.” Being an Asian woman, she wanted to challenge the expectation that she should be submissive and serve others before herself. Throughout her songs she embodies fictional personas that are brash and confident such as a cowboy.

Laurel Hell (2022)

Mitski’s sixth and most recently released studio album is “Laurel Hell”. Written in the midst of a global crisis, Mitski was looking for a way out of the “fog of the pandemic.” Inspired by the hopeful air of the 80s, this album is full of electronic synths and foot tapping beats that make you want to jump up and dance! In contrast, however, the lyrics diverge from moral judgements as Mitski sings about being emotionally unavailable and acknowledges that we make mistakes that can hurt others. Notably, “The Only Heartbreaker,” marked her debut appearance on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We (2023)On July 17th, 2023, Mitski announced the arrival of her new album The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. Since then, three of the 11 tracks have been revealed: The lead single “Bug Like an Angel,” along with “Heaven” and “Star.” It seems like Mitski is coming back to her roots as the songs are reminiscent of her grungy, older work, drifting away from the pop sounds of Laurel Hell. Fans can even get excited for her small EU/UK tour in October, described as a series of intimate, acoustic performances from Mitski previewing her new album.

Knives Nguyen, (he/them/theirs) is a journalist from the Bay Area who covers entertainment and culture. You can connect with them on LinkedIn: @knivesnguyen.

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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