Album Review: Bury Me at Makeout Creek

Indie artist Mitski’s third album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, is my favorite Mitski album because of its sharp lyrics and emotional openness. The album tells stories about love, insecurity and change, alternating between despairing and hopeful.   

A central focus of the album is Mitski’s romantic relationships and the troubles they present. Opening with “Texas Reznikoff,” a romantic song in reference to poet Charles Rezkinoff, Mitski eases the listener into the heavier themes of the album. The song begins with a soft plea for a romantic escape, gaining momentum when she quotes Rezkinoff and compares her lover to the breeze of Austin nights. “First Love / Late Spring” is a sweet-sounding song with the darker story of a first love that carries difficulties. The promise of first love is juxtaposed with the finality of late spring. She explores the ends of a relationship even further in “Jobless Monday,” in which the honeymoon phase has been lived out. She sings, “Oh I miss when we first met, he didn’t know me yet,” showing how time can be detrimental to relationships. “Francis Forever” focuses on feelings of inadequacy and codependency. Mitski writes, “I don’t think I could stand to be where you don’t see me,” highlighting her desperation and desire for approval. She furthers her exploration into the codependent aspects of relationships with “I Don’t Smoke,” comparing the addictive quality of smoking to a c0dependent relationship. Her self-destructive impulses become apparent with the lyrics, “If you need to be mean, be mean to me,” demonstrating the toxic relationship that she finds herself drawn to. “I Will” shares the most commonalties with a traditional love song, with the lyrics detailing care and comfort. The song is not for a specific person, but instead says what Mitski would like told to her in a relationship.  

Bury Me at Makeout Creek also explores themes of disillusionment separate from romantic relationships. The upbeat and guitar-heavy “Townie” shares the story of self-destructive adolescence. Striking lyrics, such as “’Cause we’ve tried hungry and we’ve tried full, and nothing seems enough” and “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony” speak to the hunger of youth and desire for change. “Drunk Walk Home” chronicles the singer’s feeling of hopelessness in the face of challenges in her life, such as failed relationships and financial debt. The song ends with a prolonged scream encapsulating her frustration. In the final song on the album, the singer reflects on life and death, using her experience on a turbulent plane to ponder her life thus far. “Last Words of a Shooting Star” is morbid but still somehow cheerful, with a calm finality that is perfect for the end of the album.  

One of the most powerful aspects of Mitski’s music, and this album in particular, is the vulnerability apparent in the lyrics. She doesn’t hold back in describing her turmoil, and the listener is able to become a part of her world through her inventive use of imagery and honest lyricism.