Mitski - Be the Cowboy
Critic Score
Based on 40 reviews
2018 Ratings: #13 / 882
Year End Rank: #2
User Score
2018 Ratings: #66
Liked by 394 people
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Mitski’s Be the Cowboy is a fabulous album, one you didn’t know you needed. More comfortable with her anxieties, and articulating them beautifully, she has taken a pop turn on her fifth studio affair. She is more playful, content with her discontentedness, but still deeply feeling.

Consequence of Sound

On a songwriting level, Mitski — already established as a top-tier songwriter — has outdone herself on Be the Cowboy. The album is full of constructions that are simple, bold, sharp, and generous. She wastes not a single second, every moment is intentional, every instrument employed for a purpose.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Be a Cowboy just confirms what we already knew: Mitski​ is an indispensable innovator of indie rock.

The Guardian
It is hard to sing at a remove and maintain emotional directness – Mitski is famously private – but like St Vincent or even David Lynch, she specialises in the bait-and-switch of delight and obfuscation.
Tiny Mix Tapes

Be the Cowboy is about capriciousness, denying the contrivances of beauty in some ways while bending to its standards in others. She’s walking the divide between love and heartache, between dejection and fury. But Miyawaki has the talent to straddle that line with poise and aplomb; she’s the geyser and also the slow dancer.

NOW Magazine
It’s sometimes surprising when you discover that pop songs, as loud and vibrant as they often are, can be quite devastating. This is especially true on Mitski’s excellent fifth album.
Whether listeners engage with the LP as a whole or focus on any of the numerous gems that constitute it, the experience will be revelatory. Unambiguously, 'Be the Cowboy' represents 2018's brightest artistic moment, not so much a pinnacle as yet another classic in Mitski's discography likely to be cherished indefinitely.
A.V. Club

The cleaned-up production does highlight the eccentric, even incomplete, nature of some of her compositions—Mitski’s only ever written songs with traditional verse-chorus-verse structure when she’s felt like it—but as far as problems go, wishing that all of the songs on Be The Cowboy were three-minute pop masterpieces instead of just some of them is a good one to have.

The Young Folks

After all of the loneliness and the yearning for what was or what could be that we heard throughout Be the Cowboy, it ends with a sad resignation of what love is: You can’t keep it, and you will change, but it existed and that’s not so bad.


In the end, rather than being a disappointment, Be the Cowboy's point of view provides a brilliant twist, one that channels all the unease, unpredictability, and intuitiveness of Mitski's previous work -- even for those who don't take in the lyrics.

The 405

Though it’s a record perspiring uncertainty and the fear of becoming stagnant, Be The Cowboy is Mitski’s most personal and confrontational thus far. It’s violently poignant and the mark of an artist who’s barely tapped into her singularity.

No Ripcord
Immense in execution and focus, the album reveals her own characteristics through characters. It hones in on her desires and loneliness, both in and out of all types of relationships.
FLOOD Magazine
These songs, jostling up against one another in the album’s mad dash, add up to a portrait of the artist in transition and at her peak—expanding her vision, refining her sense of self.
These 14 complex compositions warp the pop textbook into something more knotty and internal, creating a unique zone where the 27-year old thrives: She’s never sounded so large, even in the record’s quietest moments.
The Line of Best Fit
“Be the cowboy you wish to see in the world”. You may not see it emblazoned on a plane come election time, but it is the slogan that inspired Mitski’s fifth and most rewarding record yet.

Whether she’s singing about herself or creating stand-ins that feel just like real people, Be the Cowboy shows why she is fast making herself into one of the most interesting songwriters of her generation.

Rolling Stone
As her third LP proves, making complex feelings of powerlessness loom as large as movie kaijus isn’t just a signature talent — it can seem like the main point and power of what Miyawaki does.
American Songwriter
It’s an album that sounds intimate and confessional even as it’s bursting with musical ideas that outstrip the usual singer-songwriter focus on acoustic guitar or piano and vocal.
Rather than crumbling under the pressure of acclaim, Mitski embraces it and is all better for it. These trials and tribulations that birthed ‘Be The Cowboy’ have not only developed Mitski as a musician, but also act as another sign that she has the potential to be considered one of the best singer-songwriters of our generation.
It hints little at the future for Mitski, but as a self-contained piece, just furthers her ability to create immersive worlds to fall into.

Throughout Be the Cowboy, Mitski's voice remains as hauntingly evocative as ever, her songs still melancholic and tinged with themes of loneliness and nostalgia. But this time, she's made sure we know the experiences of the characters in her songs are narrative works — not unedited diary entries, as they've been unfairly described in the past.


Be The Cowboy showcases over 14 tracks an artist who – along with producer and chief collaborator Patrick Hyland – rarely takes an obvious route to anything.

Spill Magazine
Mitski is clearly part of an important revolution in music alongside the likes of Angel Olsen and St Vincent that not just features but values the voices, opinions, and freedoms of young women.
Northern Transmissions
This album can be painted with many brushes. Among the distortion (less this time around), soft rock, hard rock, and indie ballads, are narratives that demand an exploration of their deeper meaning.
On her fifth record, ‘Be The Cowboy’, the American-Japanese songwriter conducts grander musical theatrics and tacks an abstract self-portrait to the wall.
Slant Magazine
Even as she continues to explore the dark parts of her soul lyrically, Mitski sounds more confident than ever.
The Skinny

If Bury Me at Makeout Creek marked Mitski’s “breakthrough” and seismic shift from piano to punk rage on guitar, and Puberty 2 grappled with finding happiness in the reality of adulthood, Be the Cowboy is a new frontier.

Clocking in at 32 and a half minutes, ‘Be The Cowboy’ isn’t a long listen, but Christ, you’ll feel every second. As always, Mitski may be an indie rock artist, but her songwriting and ability to open up her chest, showing off her never-healing heart, position her as the absolute antithesis of the genre.
Loud and Quiet
With ‘Be The Cowboy’ she’s seized control of her image and taken her writing to the next level of detached gender critique and sincerity.

Across Be the Cowboy, she is utterly herself: charismatic, slightly left-of-centre, arresting, and -- as always -- the odd one out in a crowded room. She may resign herself to the role of wallflower, but at least there’s music playing.

Spectrum Culture

After Puberty 2 saw her blossom into one of the indie scene’s brightest talents, the singer-songwriter pares back that album’s ambitious sweep with the compact Be the Cowboy, a half-hour record that condenses her firm grasp of youthful angst, longing and spite into bite-sized nuggets that could have soundtracked a bitter alternate universe of classic AM radio.


Mitski argues from the very first track "Geyser" to the end of Be the Cowboy that we are meant to be emotional people, although pent-up human emotions are never released as majestically as this electric explosion.

Crack Magazine

There’s ... a certain sense of growth from her breakthrough album, 2016’s Puberty 2 – this is bolder, more ambitious and experimental.

God Is in the TV

This is Mitski’s most interesting album for its eclectic mix of styles. If her two last albums Puberty 2 and Bury Me At Makeout Creek were too heavy and suffocated by their guitar distortion, this time she spreads out the indie rock moments with Temples-like woozy folk organ and electronic keyboards.

Under The Radar

Be the Cowboy may not hit the highs Mitski is capable of hitting, but it's still a solid effort from one of today's best artists.

The Needle Drop

Be the Cowboy is arguably Mitski's most mature release, but most of the songs feel like a faint breeze.


That head game was so good it got me back on my mitski phase


Scrap everything that I said before, this album is actually amazing and it finally clicked for me.


I was sad before listening to this and now I'm ₑₓₜᵣₐ ₛₐd.

I LOVE how she adopted the sounds of disco and folk on some of her songs. UGH, HER MIND.

Mitski has come such a long way in her discography and songwriting abilities. Be the Cowboy is an amalgamation of her greatest musical strengths played against the backdrop of her greatest weakness: loneliness. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, every song is an emotional roller coaster that trace the anxieties of modern love and ... read more


very well produced and written. each song is like a cool breeze on a hot summer night, pleasant in the moment, but once it's over i'm not left thinking about it much


Beautifully sad and desperate💅🏻just like me



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Added on: May 14, 2018