Mitski’s power is in her extremes. Vulnerability so delicate it makes porcelain look like steel, often mixed with raw, raging musicality to make for searing, gut-wrenching moments. Be the Cowboy, released last Friday, finds Mitski steadily spiraling into her most tumultuous, painful inner thoughts while honing in on that aforementioned sonic dichotomy. Much like its name promises, “A Pearl” is a shining moment of reflection wedged in between the hard-shelled submission to her own loneliness that encapsulates the entire album.
“You’re growing tired of me,” she softly sings at the song’s start before spinning a tale of someone recovering from a toxic relationship, unable to let herself accept the much healthier love of her new partner. She “fell in love with a war and nobody told me it ended,” as Mitski beautifully describes it, an eviscerating depiction of the sometimes intoxicating hold of an abusive situation. The pearl in question is her own surrender to the punishing love she mistook for passion. She spirals out — both mentally and musically as the song becomes awash in crushing guitar feedback — as she surrenders completely to her own self-destruction, offering up an apathetic apology while she delicately places her pearl back in the mouth of its oyster, waiting to open it once more.