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Welcome to Rob Hakimian’s website, collecting together the best of his writing from over the years.

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Mitski - Puberty 2

[Dead Oceans]

Japanese-American singer Mitski Miyawaki has released 3 albums prior to this year’s Puberty 2, but for her step up to renowned indie label Dead Oceans she has produced her best album to date, and one that has proven to be quite a breakthrough. This is for a number of reasons. Mitski has always brought an adolescent-like honesty and melodrama to her music, which has won her plenty of adoring fans. On Puberty 2 she has sharpened her lyrical ability even more, giving them more heft and getting more in touch with her own situation politically; as a woman, as a second generation immigrant, and just overall as a human. With the extra production help she’s received from Patrick Hyland she has also bolstered her power-punk-rock sound into something muscular – and learned where to leave things stripped back and atmospheric too.

The thing that keeps Puberty 2 most entertaining on repeat listens is Mitski herself; the way she represents herself lyrically and the way she delivers the lines. This is evident right from the very first track, “Happy,” which takes the story of a pleasant afternoon visit (“he brought cookies on the way”), which turns x-rated (“I felt happy come inside of me”), a humorous self-effacing twist (“I was in the bathroom, I didn’t hear him leave,”) and ultimately heartbreak of the locomotive chorus ("when you go take this heart, because I’ll make no more use of it when there’s no more you”). This spikiness that Mitski can bring to her songs makes them particularly cutting, and makes sub-2-minute pop punk jams “My Body Is Made Of Crushed Little Stars” and “A Loving Feeling” all the more barbed.

Sometimes it seems as though Mitski can drift towards being too dramatic, but her delivery and the way it’s backed up by the instrumentation makes it pay off. Both “I Bet On Losing Dogs” and “Crack Baby” make heavy-handed metaphors of love, but Mitski is singing her guts out throughout, and the lack of irony in either instance makes them all the more poignant and affecting. She brings together all of these strengths together magnificently on Puberty 2’s centrepiece (and song of the year contender) “Your Best American Girl.” Here Mitski tells the story of a seemingly-ideal relationship starting with the confession “if I could, I’d be your little spoon and kiss your fingers forever.” From this intimate scene the song spirals out into her vision of their ultimate demise as a couple due to the differences in their upbringings and worldviews. It culminates in the battering chorus where Mitski confronts her mother: “Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me, but I do – I finally do.”

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Below you can see my top 50 albums of the year list.

50| Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS
49| Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits
48| Daughter - Not To Disappear
47| The Avalanches - Wildflower
46| Beyonce - Lemonade
45| Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
44| Gold Panda - Good Luck and Do Your Best
43| James Blake - The Colour In Anything
42| Lambchop - FLOTUS
41| Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger
40| Nothing - Tired Of Tomorrow
39| Camp Cope - Camp Cope
38| Cymbals Eat Guitars - Pretty Years
37| Aphex Twin - Cheetah EP
36| Mary Lattimore - At The Dam
35| Woods - City Sun Eater In The River Of Light
34| White Lung - Paradise
33| Solange - A Seat At The Table
32| Wild Beasts - Boy King
31| Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
30| Marissa Nadler - Strangers
29| Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat To Earth
28| Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
27| Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.
26| Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
25| Kedr Livanskiy - January Sun
24| Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing
23| Steve Gunn - Eyes On The Lines
22| Pantha du Prince - The Triad
21| Cass McCombs - Mangy Love
20| Cavern of Anti-Matter - void beats/invocation trex
19| Olga Bell - Tempo
18| Chairlift - Moth
17| Mitski - Puberty 2
16| Anderson .Paak - Malibu
15| Underworld - Barbara, Barbara we face a shining future
14| Xenia Rubinos - Black Terry Cat
13| Savages - Adore Life
12| DIIV - Is The Is Are
11| Frank Ocean - Blonde
10| Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
09| MONEY - Suicide Songs
08| Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
07| A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
06| Nicolas Jaar - Sirens
05| Angel Olsen - My Woman
04| Parquet Courts - Human Performance
03| Preoccupations - Preoccupations
02| ANOHNI - Hopelessness
01| Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

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