Review: Mitski "Geyser"

Today, New York musician Mitski announced a North American tour behind her forthcoming album Be the Cowboy. The 42-date tour includes a stop in Seattle on Wednesday, October 31 at Showbox SoDo. Be the Cowboy is out August 17 via Dead Oceans and features the previously-released single “Geyser.” Writer Sophia Stephens delves deep into the haunting lead single.

In this video, red means go. After the inaugural bold color fades from the screen, the music video for “Geyser,” the first single release from Mitski Miyawaki/Mitski’s upcoming fifth studio album Be The Cowboy through Dead Oceans, begins with Mitski standing alone on a desolate beach. Although the setting is cloudy, Mitski’s song is anything but grey — and this lone figure sings of a love that is equal in its desperation and devotion.

Two years after Mitski’s Puberty 2, the voice we hear in this brief, yet hard-to-forget video at first stands apart from the throbbing, gloomy synth soundscape, which transforms and eventually soars alongside Mitski’s lyrics to create not only a love song, but a testament to the survival of affection.

If you are with someone who you know is the one, this song is for you. If you’re not sure, this song will point you in the right direction.

The fierce loyalty of Mitski’s love comes through in this video with lines like “You’re my number one/ You’re the one I want/ And I’ve turned down every hand/ That has beckoned me to come,” but quickly goes deeper. It is undeniable that Mitski is a powerful singer and musician, but perhaps the one defining element that has always kept me enchanted with Mitski is her way with metaphors, especially when exploring the glistening nuances of love and relationships.

In this song, and the accompanying video, this figurative geyser within Mitski has washed away all other false affections and suitors to find one true love, one true partner. But like all of Mitski’s songs, this accomplishment does not come without its past imprinted in her lyrics: “Though I’m a geyser/ Feel it bubbling from below.../ Hear it call to me/ Constantly/ And hear the harmony/ Only when it’s harming me.” Our natural forces are absolutely prone to their pains and disappointments, especially when we most wish to be able to just “hear the harmony,” but that has not stopped Mitski’s flow towards the truth.

Whereas past albums caught us in the midst of Mitski’s attempts to navigate love, identity, and trauma, the Mitski we see here is alone and resolved. She knows what she needs, and there are no more apologies about it. The greyscale setting may be muted, but it is not entirely dark, either, thanks to director Zia Anger, who previously directed Mitski’s “Your Best American Girl” video in 2016. Anger also recently directed Beach House’s “Dark Spring” video, a surreal meditation on how you can find both euphoria and terror in the dark.

With Mitski’s “Geyser,” there is a truth in the lyrics that stands triumphant, even when Mitski falls in the sand and begins desperately digging with her bare hands to find the source of her geyser. The raw vulnerability and desperation to find yourself, especially when in love with another person, comes through in this music video with a ferocious clarity. When you look at Mitski in this video, the quiet strength of a fiercely independent and evolved love that has room both for herself and the person she loves, is reflected back in her gaze.

Though the waters may have calmed, they are still deep. And Mitski remembers.

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