Mitski - Be the Cowboy
Critic Score
Based on 32 reviews
2018 Ratings: #15 / 551
User Score
Based on 395 ratings
2018 Ratings: #36
August 17, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Dead Oceans / Label
Indie Rock, Art Pop / Genres
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
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.

100
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.

100
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.
100
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.
94
GIGsoup
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.
91
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.

90
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.

90
AllMusic

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.

90
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.
90
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.
88
Pitchfork
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.
85
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.
83
Paste

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.

80
Slant Magazine
Even as she continues to explore the dark parts of her soul lyrically, Mitski sounds more confident than ever.
80
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.
80
Dork
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.
80
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.

80
NME
On her fifth record, ‘Be The Cowboy’, the American-Japanese songwriter conducts grander musical theatrics and tacks an abstract self-portrait to the wall.
80
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.
80
musicOMH

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.

80
Exclaim!

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.

80
DIY
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.
80
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.
80
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.
80
Clash
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.
76
Sputnikmusic

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.

75
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.

70
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.

70
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.

70
Crack Magazine

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

70
PopMatters

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.

60
The Needle Drop

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

Aug 17, 2018
ThrowBackG
87
I think we all knew this was going to be great, but not on this level.
(Fantano gonna give this a six, watch)
May 14, 2018*
dyelir
90
Gays: This is our aoty
Aug 17, 2018
frienderman
90
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
Aug 17, 2018
itsyahboinoah
65
Sorry guys but I really don't get the hype for this. Even though its a tiny notch above her last album, some of the musicianship here feels a little drab. What I do appreciate about this album and like is Mitski heartfelt song/writing. Maybe this will grow for me but at the mean time, I am keeping my score how it is.
Sep 17, 2018
morningsbell
74
Hey 7.4/10 is still a pretty positive rating!

I loved tracks like Geyser and Nobody, but some tracks on this album sound incomplete and the lyrics could use more work. Other than that, I do enjoy how heartfelt and personal this album is... and damn Mitski can write good melodies.
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Track List

  1. Geyser
  2. Why Didn't You Stop Me?
  3. Old Friend
  4. A Pearl
  5. Lonesome Love
  6. Remember My Name
  7. Me and My Husband
  8. Come into the Water
  9. Nobody
  10. Pink in the Night
  11. A Horse Named Cold Air
  12. Washing Machine Heart
  13. Blue Light
  14. Two Slow Dancers


Added on: May 14, 2018