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Mitski’s Brand New City: Review

Mitsuki Miyawaki (otherwise known as Mitski), is a Japanese-American indie pop singer. After redirecting her childhood drive from anger of how she looked, to music, she discovered a time-worthy hobby. Mitskis heavy childhood experience has carried itself into her music. A prime example of that could be her song Brand New City, which is the fourth song on her freshman album, Lush, released when Mitski was only 18. 

Brand New City is interpreted to be a follow up of her first song on Lush, Liquid Smooth. In Liquid Smooth, Mitski discovers that she is “in her prime” in terms of beauty, and she is desperate for others to recognize it. Her tone is angry, and almost sarcastic. She feels her beauty has no use, it’s pointless. Mitski in Liquid Smooth says, “but what am I to do with all this beauty?” “I’m chemicals, that is all.” She references how women are often treated like inanimate objects instead of living humans. Because what are we (women) to do with all of this beauty? In Liquid Smooth, Mitski also says “..at least take my picture, 崩れてゆく前に [before it collapses]”, Mitski is well aware that she won’t be beautiful forever, and she wants to remember it while it lasts. Because Mitski was so obsessed with her appearance with how she looked when she was younger, this song is her discovery of her current beauty, and her realizing it will allegedly not last forever. 

Brand New City again references beauty. Except, in this song, her beauty is no longer at its peak. Her beauty is instead, on a downfall. In the first verse, she says, “Think my brain is rotting in places / think my heart is ready to die / I think my body is falling in pieces / I think my blood is passing me by” which seems to be Mitski feeling the effects of depression, low self esteem or mental illness in general. She makes these references to hatred of her vital organs and how she feels like they are failing her. Mitski feels her body deteriorating, which is because she’s finally an adult. So, her body is mostly done growing, and she feels like it’s only downhill from here. Continuously throughout the song, she repeats “Honey what’d you take? What’d you take? Honey, look at me tell me what you took, what’d you take?” which has various different interpretations, but is personally believed to be a reference to her frustration against the expectation of womens motherly roles in dating. Mitski continuously discovers her identity throughout the song and has conflicting feelings about it.

In the second verse of the song, she says, “I think my fate is losing its patience / I think the ground is pulling me down / I think my life is losing momentum / I think my ways are wearing me down” which seems to be her once again referencing the downfall of her life and appearance. Mitski talks about feeling unsuccessful and that she has not achieved anything in her life. Her life is losing momentum, so she is running out of time for success. In the last line of the second verse, however, Mitski realizes that it is her fault that she has achieved nothing, it’s HER ways that are wearing her down, and it’s a soul-crushing, confining and terrifying feeling. 

The bridge of the song may quite possibly be the definition of soul-crushing though, Mitski says “But if I gave up on being pretty, I wouldn’t know how to be alive / I should’ve moved to a brand new city and teach myself how to die”. Mitski realizes how obsessed she’s been with her appearance, and she now knows it’s harmful. However, if she stopped, she wouldn’t know how to be alive. A quote from Genius says that, “If being pretty is how she learnt to ‘live’, then she may just have to ‘die’”. Mitski has also addressed this lyric in a Tweet, saying that her long obsession with beauty is a symptom of the trauma from being powerless. She states that the only way she saw women gain power was through their beauty. If she gave up on her excruciating and everlong desire to be beautiful, she would once again feel powerless. However, if she moves to the previously mentioned “brand new city” then she may actually accept her unhealthy obsession with power and beauty.  Mitski finishes the song by repeating “Honey what’d you take? What’d you take? Honey, look at me tell me what you took, what’d you take?”. 

Mitski makes continuous references to her beauty throughout her discography. A prominent example is, “I always wanted to die clean and pretty / But I’d be too busy on working days” which is said in her song, Last Words of a Shooting Star. Beauty is clearly important to Mitski, and she’s even thought about her desire to die that way. A quote by Will Arbery says that “Sometimes Mitski feels life would be easier without hope or a soul or love. But when she closes her eyes and thinks about what’s truly hers, what can’t be repossessed or demolished, she sees love.” which is another topic continuously mentioned in her songs, especially in My Love Mine All Mine. Love is the only thing that’s hers. Love cannot be taken away like beauty can. It’s everlasting. If Mitski has love, she has everything. Her beauty no longer matters.

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Emma Egan
Emma Egan, Staff Writer
Emma is a 9th grader and staff writer for The Hive. She is involved in Yearbook Club and Students Demand Action. In her free time she enjoys listening to music and playing bass. You can contact or find her at [email protected] or @emma_eegan on Instagram
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