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Music Culture cheat sheet: Mitski, FKA twigs, and more

Jan. 24, 2022
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Listen: “Love Me More” by Mitski

It’s been a polarizing few days for Mitski fans. The singer-songwriter’s much-awaited new album Laurel Hell is finally hitting our comfort noise-canceling headphones on February 4th, but at the cost of Mitski joining the European leg of Harry Styles’ tour. (As one Twitter user said, “Mitski look at me. Look at me this isn’t you.”)

Ahead of the tour news she dropped “Love Me More,” our fourth sampling from Laurel Hell, along with a haunting music video featuring a scarily accurate Mitski marionette doll. The single continues the synth-pop direction of “The Only Heartbreaker,” effectively pairing ‘80s nostalgia with Mitski’s heart-wrenching, hyperspecific lyricism. Frankly—and I say this with utmost admiration and pure love—it sounds like a song my mom, known Sad Girl, would play in the car while I secretly searched it on Shazam.

Mitski has always been candid about her relationship with public approval. She worried in an interview in 2019 that it would somehow taint her music, but that has yet to happen. In “Love Me More,” she approaches it authentically, in a way that’s self-referential without being self-deprecating. Heartbreaking, but not at the expense of herself. 

The music video, brought to life by the same minds that were behind “Nobody,” is hypnotic and absurd and quick-paced. I find myself approaching recent music videos with a sense of impatience—I’m not sure how to phrase this without sounding annoyingly pretentious, but music videos now are often made to suffice tradition over artistic satisfaction. The opposite is true for Mitski: if you’re not watching the videos, you’re only getting half the story.

Watch the music video for “Love Me More” by Mitski here.

Watch: Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)

It’s very hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Japanese romantic drama anthology Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy so good. I left the theater reeling with pain and joy; I hadn’t expected to be as moved as I was, especially since all three segments appear so unassuming. A woman recounts a date to her best friend in the back of a cab until the best friend realizes the date is her ex-boyfriend. A woman tries to seduce her boyfriend’s professor. A woman welcomes an old friend to her home.

The film is mostly dialogue: think the Before trilogy except less overbearingly romantic and pompous, and more nervous sweating and domestic intimacy. The highs and lows of the film come not from story beats but from a patient understanding of human impulse. I was definitely romanticizing waiting at the bus stop after I saw this. 

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is now available on digital.

Listen: CAPRISONGS by FKA twigs

Every time I listen to FKA twigs, I’m reminded of this Guardian profile from 2019 in which she spoke about her name always being attached to a man. She called Mary Magdalene, who inspired the title of her previous record, “an incredible woman who was always in the shadow of a man.” To which she added, “I can relate.”

On “which way,” track ten of her latest album CAPRISONGS, twigs sings, “I’m not the rockstar’s girlfriend, I am the rockstar girlfriend.” The song is preceded by the confident “papi bones,” the playful “pamplemousse,” and the sparkly radio-ready pop perfection “tears in the club.” Listening to the album for the first time, I caught myself having the absolute time of my life at my silly little desk. I couldn’t help but wonder—is happiness…cool?

This album, put simply, is twigs’ healing. “I have fallen back in love with music, danger, trying new things, sex, love, raves,” the artist said on Twitter. “CAPRISONGS is my journey back to myself through my amazing collaborators and friends.” 

I was tempted to point out similarities (in terms of intention) and differences (in terms of execution) with Lorde’s Solar Power, but so much of criticism is comparison, and while the album did remind me of a variety of things for a variety of reasons, CAPRISONGS is a unique experience, immaculately curated down to every single interlude. It’s a distinct atmosphere that twigs herself described perfectly: “it’s bronzer in the sink, alco pop on the side, a cherry lolly, apple juice when ur thirsty, friends in the park, your favourite person, that one sentence somebody said to you that changed everything, a club pre-game, your bestie who is always late but brings the most to the party, meeting a friend at the airport, just togetherness.”

Stream CAPRISONGS by FKA twigs on Spotify here.