Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Mitski – Nobody

I think it’s fair to say we kinda like her…


Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: When I first heard this I thought it was far slighter than “Geyser,” its indomitable predecessor; it wasn’t the disco beat itself, but how tinny it sounded, the guitars sounding like peashooters scratching into the side of my skull. Mitski’s melody was also off — a wandering thing that seemed to drift in and out of coherence before dissipating into nothing by the song’s end. And yet I still felt drawn to “Nobody,” listening to it over and over again as I laid in bed on a foggy June morning. And yet repeated listening brought me no closer to an understanding of “Nobody,” only a realization of its sublime jankiness. It’s a song about the vagaries of loneliness, of seeking connection in half-made up moments and glances, of blaming yourself and begging for something from the world, and it sounds like all of these things reflected through the facets of a disco ball. It’s triumphant in its own way, with its piano and guitar overwhelming you, tricking you to dance with its own ghost of a lyric. “Nobody” is slight because it has to be and because it wants to be — to accommodate the depth of its loneliness and make clear its magnificent strangeness.

Joshua Copperman: “Geyser” aimed for the heights of “Your Best American Girl” with added orchestration, and while the former is one of our top-scorers for 2018, for me that orchestration crowded rather than accentuated the intensity. “Nobody” doesn’t have that same orchestration, but it instead goes into entirely different territory. Mitski flips the obsessive subtext of Cardigans classic “Lovefool” into the main text, though less about “say that you love me” than “please, anyone, say they love me.” That dread is present in the song even before “give me one good honest kiss” becomes “one good movie kiss,” with that opening line alone. “I open the window/to hear sounds of people” could be a heartfelt lyric from Daughter, but Mitski sounds self-aware enough to know that this behavior is destructive and that it only digs herself deeper. It would have been enough to leave it at that, but the song instead runs through two key changes in the last 45 seconds — when Beyonce’s “Love On Top” did the same thing, it sounded like pure joy, but with Mitski the key changes represent a turn into straight-up delirium. Forget dancing the loneliness away; this song sounds more like dancing with the paranoia that the loneliness may never leave. Of course depression has been depicted in otherwise upbeat songs — but Mitski and Patrick Hyland manage to make the instrumental backing sound sarcastic, mocking instead of supporting its narrator with her denial.

Will Adams: It’s a killer joke to employ such a chipper arrangement for a song whose first line is, “My God, I’m so lonely.” “Nobody” is unnerving to listen to and a neat trick (especially when the façade begins to crack toward the end), I just find Mitski more compelling when the fake smile is completely down and she’s ripping herself apart fiber by fiber.

Alfred Soto: Playing “Nobody” after Little Big Town and St. Vincent proved instructive. Enamored with the filigrees of disco without committing to them, these acts can’t shake their psychosexual hangups, god bless’em — up to a point. With Mitski mixed so high, I have to listen to her at times wobbly singing instead of letting them wash against me, bestirred by the beat. I prefer the “Geyser” approach.

Vikram Joseph: With a couple of notable exceptions (the primal headrush of “Townie,” for example), Mitski songs come together like pieces of a jigsaw. Or maybe they’re more like a Magic Eye puzzle, hinging on a moment of vision and clarity — it’s impossible to see the full picture, until suddenly it’s impossible not to. I remember the first time it happened with “Happy,” the clatter and brass coalescing into a bold, brilliant album opener. “Nobody” follows this trend; on first listen it’s a strange, blurry synth-pop song which doesn’t quite seem to fit inside its frame, but I can pinpoint the exact moment where it makes sense — it’s on the third listen when the ABBA synths kick in, and suddenly Mitski is the sad disco queen that, deep down, we always knew she had in her.

Julian Axelrod: Mitski is the high priestess of acting okay while you’re slowly coming unhinged, and “Nobody” might be her magnum opus. She leans harder into both polarities than usual, swaying atop a slinky disco suite straight out of a ’70s car commercial as she sings a funeral dirge for her decimated heart. The last minute is some of the finest vocal work she’s ever done, lurching from yearning to defiance to desperation to full erasure as the band scrambles to keep up. Mitski’s always been able to communicate more in a single line than most artists can in an album, but this is some next level diva shit. If Donna Sumer had “I Feel Love,” consider this a much-needed modern update: “I Feel Nothing.”

Rebecca A. Gowns: An ode to nobody which brings to mind another — but where Toni Basil decries the body and wishes to dissipate altogether, to become nobody (“no body”) in a world that’s too full of senses and responsibilities; Mitski feels the absence, and wants something tangible and real in a world that feels like it’s disappearing. She wants a faceless “somebody”; she wants a nobody with a body. She forgets who she is and needs some one to be the mirror. (Who are we without one another?) Well! You know what, like the Toni Basil song, it’s existential, it’s depressing — and it’s a bop!

Reader average: [8.46] (15 votes)

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2 Responses to “Mitski – Nobody”

  1. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to write on this one, but there’s so much beautiful writing in here from you all!

  2. wish I could’ve written about Nobody, but you all do it justice in such beautiful ways. every single blurb is amazing