Delivering on the promise of its single, Puberty 2 is a brilliant confession on the problems and promise of life in your early 20s. On “Happy,” the 25-year-old imagines a brief tryst with happiness itself, in which the feeling comes over, with snacks, “comes inside of me” and leaves while she’s in the bathroom. Even if extended metaphors aren’t your thing, that’s an emotional honesty you don’t hear every day. In two to three minute bursts of crisp imagery, wall-of-noise guitar and razor wit, Mitski pins down the hormone rollercoaster of a time of self-reckoning and bad decisions.
A major step forward from The Simpsons-referencing Bury Me at Makeout Creek, Puberty 2 is one of the few albums that shares artistic DNA with both Rivers Cuomo and Laurie Anderson. But Actor-era St. Vincent may be the best touchstone for this exciting new voice in indie rock. Like Annie Clark in 2009, Mitski is polishing up her creative vision, casting out the last few tropes of genre or cliche still hanging around. She’s not quite at the stadium headliner, Grammy-winning, model-dating android-genius level of Clark just yet, but Mitski has found a worldview that only she can see.