Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 30
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 30
  3. Negative: 0 out of 30
Buy On
  1. Aug 17, 2018
    100
    Mitski’s songwriting trademarks are strong enough to transcend the stylistic revamp--arrangements that are rich without being precious (Pink in the Night), plus her terrifically mordant worldview.
  2. Aug 17, 2018
    100
    Be the Cowboy is about capriciousness, denying the contrivances of beauty in some ways while bending to its standards in others. She’s walking the divide between love and heartache, between dejection and fury. But Miyawaki has the talent to straddle that line with poise and aplomb; she’s the geyser and also the slow dancer. She’s singing for herself, but also for her audience. There’s a little Mitski in us all, pilgrim.
  3. Aug 17, 2018
    100
    It’s sometimes surprising when you discover that pop songs, as loud and vibrant as they often are, can be quite devastating. This is especially true on Mitski’s excellent fifth album. ... It’s a bold record, rising and falling over the course of 14 tracks.
  4. 100
    Be the Cowboy shows that love and loss can be grand and small at the same time. That two minutes is more than enough time to melt down emotion into a pure concentrate and nearly drown yourself in it. That every moment can be a epic love story, that every heartbreak can be as hard and small as a pearl and just as coveted.
  5. Aug 16, 2018
    91
    Although Be The Cowboy sees Mitski fully transformed from her lo-fi beginnings in terms of production, her post-Pixies guitar-rock tendencies still come through strong, albeit now more lush and kaleidoscopic than buzzing and raucous.
  6. Aug 20, 2018
    90
    For her, it’s filtered through the attitude of the cowboy, her power coming through in her music and her words. Under these guises, she finds layers of emotional truth that are messy, confusing and often conflicting, but no less honest because of that.
  7. Aug 17, 2018
    90
    Though it’s a record perspiring uncertainty and the fear of becoming stagnant, Be The Cowboy is Mitski’s most personal and confrontational thus far. It’s violently poignant and the mark of an artist who’s barely tapped into her singularity.
  8. Aug 17, 2018
    90
    Rather than being a disappointment, Be the Cowboy's point of view provides a brilliant twist, one that channels all the unease, unpredictability, and intuitiveness of Mitski's previous work--even for those who don't take in the lyrics.
  9. Aug 17, 2018
    88
    These 14 complex compositions warp the pop textbook into something more knotty and internal, creating a unique zone where the 27-year-old thrives: She’s never sounded so large, even in the record’s quietest moments.
  10. 85
    There's an outlaw spirit to this record: when shit happens you just gotta get back on the saddle.
  11. Aug 15, 2018
    83
    Be the Cowboy shows why she is fast making herself into one of the most interesting songwriters of her generation.
  12. Aug 31, 2018
    80
    Mitski’s devotion to music has resulted in a tremendously earnest and endearing record.
  13. Aug 22, 2018
    80
    Mitski’s songs about love are a tangle of mixed messages in precise, idiosyncratic packages. ... On this album, even more than she has before, Mitski makes the music her partner.
  14. Aug 21, 2018
    80
    Rather than crumbling under the pressure of acclaim, Mitski embraces it and is all better for it. These trials and tribulations that birthed Be The Cowboy have not only developed Mitski as a musician, but also act as another sign that she has the potential to be considered one of the best singer-songwriters of our generation.
  15. Aug 17, 2018
    80
    As a self-contained piece, just furthers her ability to create immersive worlds to fall into.
  16. 80
    Be The Cowboy is a standout because of its restlessness, Mitski winding each lonely melody through the peripatetic music and always landing someplace unexpectedly moving.
  17. Aug 17, 2018
    80
    There may be nothing explicitly political in the songs on Be the Cowboy. But there’s plenty implicit, from the DIY American mythology of the title, to the way the songs validate voices that are shaky, hurting, irrational, and damaged, while also being smart, wry, powerful, and deserving of love.
  18. Aug 15, 2018
    80
    With 14 tracks clocking in at around 30 minutes, the album is a remarkably fast listen given the amount of detail packed into each song. Mitski is generally successful at wrapping big ideas into impactful vignettes, although there are some points that move so fast they feel inconsequential.
  19. Aug 15, 2018
    80
    The album is all the more impressive because her words and music are meticulously calculated, expertly arranged and still filled with feeling.
  20. Aug 15, 2018
    80
    Puberty 2’s only four-minute plus song was far and away its weakest, but here the songs are short, richly melodic, with layers of detail packed in--like super-compressed sad-pop bombs--and topped by Miyawaki’s vocals, at once commanding and plaintive.
  21. 80
    While Be The Cowboy hears Mitski traverse new sounds, new voices, and the anxieties of growing older, it’s clear the wisdom was already there.
  22. Aug 14, 2018
    80
    Decidedly more disco for Mitski, Be the Cowboy is a showdown of electrowave and her signature fretwork that brings a pop pep to heartbreak and humanity’s greatest gluttonies. With that formidable force of a voice, she forces us all to be the cowboy and lament for a while.
  23. Mojo
    Aug 13, 2018
    80
    If at times things veer towards needy, the sum of the set is saved by how real it all feels. [Sep 2018, p.92]
  24. Q Magazine
    Aug 13, 2018
    80
    Throughout this masterclass in artful self-scrutiny, that tightrope is Mitski's domain. [Sep 2018, p.115]
  25. Aug 13, 2018
    80
    Only three of the album's 14 tracks exceed two-and-a-half minutes, but Mitski manages to pack so much into those scant running times that they play more like miniature suites.
  26. Aug 17, 2018
    76
    There’s such a rush to these songs and, resultingly, it feels like Mitski is hurrying to capture something before it dissolves into smoke. It’s ephemeral because life is.
  27. Aug 28, 2018
    70
    Be the Cowboy largely dispenses with the distortion of Mitski’s guitar-oriented recent work, getting all the fuzz out with intro track “Geyser.” What’s left are short and thwarted pop songs. (Only two are longer than three minutes.)
  28. Aug 17, 2018
    70
    Specifically, Mitski focuses on the loneliness of a "lone ranger" lifestyle and expresses it profoundly through the musical choices accentuating her lo-fi indie rock aesthetic.
  29. Aug 14, 2018
    70
    Be the Cowboy may not hit the highs Mitski is capable of hitting, but it's still a solid effort from one of today's best artists.
  30. Uncut
    Aug 13, 2018
    70
    [The songs] all feel very much of a piece thanks to the coherence fostered by Mitski's high but agile voice and wry, self-deprecating humour. [Sep 2018, p.35]
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 128 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 128
  1. Aug 17, 2018
    9
    I swear Mitski's music is the soundtrack to my non-existent love life. Be the Cowboy, the singer-songwriter's most musically diverse projectI swear Mitski's music is the soundtrack to my non-existent love life. Be the Cowboy, the singer-songwriter's most musically diverse project to date, further solidifies Miyawaki's status as a poet laureate of the contemporary music world. She has mastered the art of taking complex, intensely personal emotions and imbuing them with a universality of experience unparalleled by today's artists. She's firing on all cylinders on this record, one of 2018's best. Bravo, Mitski.

    Highlights include 'Geyser,' 'Washing Machine Heart,' and 'Two Slow Dancers'.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 18, 2018
    10
    Wonderful album. Synchronic, well elaborated, smooth and shocking. Mitski did a beautiful job on it. His only mistake is to be too short.
  3. Aug 17, 2018
    10
    Everything about this album excels, from the perfect guitar to more of her heartwrenching lyrics.