When listening to Mitski, you get the sense that each choice she makes is deliberate. Her words are acute and specific; when she expresses her feelings, she does so in ways that are both universal and deeply personal at the same time. Her melodies play by their own rules, often elongated and delightfully piercing. And whether she’s on the guitar, the piano, or above a cascade of synths and strings, there’s always a trace of the unexpected.
Mitski rose to prominence in New York City’s DIY scene in the early 2010s, releasing her breakout third album Bury Me at Makeout Creek on the indie label Double Double Whammy before moving to Dead Oceans for 2016’s Puberty 2. And though her later records began to feature a more polished sound, Mitski has always been in search of describing the indescribable, of articulating that which eats away at you and liberates you.
Much of her music revolves around desire and longing — even now, with the release of her sixth studio album Laurel Hell, Mitski is still delivering lines that can sum up a generation of artists’ existential angst, as well as the fraught and complicated demands of relationships.
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Within each of her significant studio albums are tracks that cut straight to the heart, and they consistently demonstrate musicianship and artistic craft with unparalleled skill and vision. That’s a big statement about any artist, but Mitski’s outstanding discography puts her in an entirely different class.
We make a lot of Top 10 lists here at Consequence, and believe us when we say that ranking Mitski’s ten best songs was an incredibly difficult task. Nonetheless, we’re here to celebrate Mitski, and these are ten songs that sum up exactly what she’s about.
Check out the ranking below, and scroll to the end for a playlist of all 10 tracks.
— Paolo Ragusa