I just came home from a weekly tradition that a group of my friends and I have held for the past two months or so. We call it “art night,” and it’s probably exactly what you are imagining. We sit around, drink, listen to music, laugh, and make things with our hands. Whether it’s painting, or drawing, or weaving friendship bracelets, we’ve come to value that time together where we’re not hustling away the hours at our day jobs. I’m sure, when compared to the exciting lives that a lot of people lead, sitting on a hardwood floor with your friends is probably not that riveting, but they are little moments that mean a lot to me. And really, when you think about it, even the most exciting lifestyles are simply made up of moments. Some are just bigger than others.
Listening to Bury Met At Makeout Creek, the latest album by Brooklyn songwriter Mitski, I felt the unmistakeable touches of a kindred spirit. Though she sings about a lot of universal themes (love, heartbreak, etc.) the lens through which Mitski looks at them is a small one. She takes the big things in her life and boils them down into little moments that, while personal, she feels comfortable enough sharing with us. And though her experiences aren’t mine, I still find the smallness of Mitski’s world relatable to my own. Just as I relish the seemingly mundane, this same sort of sentiment is what fuels so much of Bury Me At Makeout Creek.
My first introduction to Mitski was through her single “Townie,” which she released early last month. Though it’s buried under metaphor and some of the most clever lyricism I’ve heard this year (“I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony”), “Townie” is essentially an everyday story about everyday kids that feel stuck in their small town, and though there’s a darkness to it, it’s also humorous in its bluntness. Listening to Bury Me At Makeout Creek as a whole, it is this intersection of honesty, humor, and straightforwardness that makes the album connect emotionally the way it does. Mitski finds the beauty in the simplicity of life, whether it’s a quiet moment sitting on the roof, a sad and drunken walk home, a tearful heartbreak, or even the endless possibilities that unemployment brings.
And yet for an album that focuses so intently on little things, and also does so with deftness and subtlety, Bury Me At Makeout Creek also manages to level listeners at almost every turn. Little turns of phrase that Mitski sprinkles into the tracks turn what could otherwise very easily be simple tunes into something much more. And on no track is this as clear as on the album’s closer, “Last Words of a Shooting Star.” Stripped of its opening and closing lines, the song plays out as yet another song detailing the pain of love lost. But framed by recurring lines about turbulence not being forecasted you realize that these are the words of a woman about to die in a plane crash, and the song takes on a devastating turn. And that’s largely where the genius of Mitski’s songwriting lies. Big things, little moments, make them beauitful, make them hurt.
So tomorrow I will return to the mundane everdayness of my job as a delivery driver for the Italian restaurant on Main Street. I imagine that I’ll continue to listen to Mitski as I peddle food all over town, but instead of seeing the hours in the car as a drag as I am frequently doing, I’ll try and do myself a favor by taking a page out of Mitski’s book. I could, I don’t know, deeply breathe in the cold fall air, or get a last look at the leaves before they’re completely gone for the year. Life is what you make it, and though the moments that my own life consists of at this current time might seem smaller rather than bigger, I’m willing to take them for what they are.
Bury Me at Makeout Creek is available now via Double Double Whammy.