Emo is an inherently American genre and movement, but that doesn’t mean artists of different backgrounds haven’t done their best to make it their own. Mitski, who was born in Japan and frequently tackles the subject of being “half-Japanese, half-American, but not fully either” in her music, offers something that so many other emotional musicians can’t: identity issues. The well from which she draws from is considerably deeper than so many of the pop-emo artists that came after the second-wave, and much to the delight of the purists, she borrows from that very era of the scene stylistically, too.
Mitski’s 2016 album Puberty 2 was a thrillingly experimental record all about emotion. The production flourishes strike just as feelings can without warning, and further elevate the songwriting here, and from the sounds of what she’s gearing up to release with her upcoming fifth album, Be the Cowboy, she’s ready to take her place as one of the most important acts in rock music.