Over the summer, Mitski released Be The Cowboy, her avant-garde spin on the American mythos and coincidentally, one of the best albums of the year. Now she’s back, releasing a video for one of the more accessible pop songs on the album, “Washing Machine Heart”. The video premiered on the streaming service Tidal and was an exclusive video for a while, but it is now available on YouTube for non-subscribers to watch.
The highly-stylized video matches the cinematic look of Mitski’s current album cycle, drawing upon clever film noir light-and-dark contrasts to give “Washing Machine Heart” a feeling of underlying uneasiness. Similar to her previous music video for “Nobody”, Mitski here is placed in a surreal-like situation where match cuts are used to transform pearls into pins (a possible reference to “A Pearl”, another song on Be The Cowboy) and an empty hand flourish into a match strike. Kisses, or the lack thereof, are also a major theme in the song (“I thought maybe we would kiss tonight / Baby will you kiss me already”), and video director Zia Anger expertly points your attention to unfulfilled kisses throughout. In one shot there’s a spotlight on a man’s mouth, and in another Mitski rubs her mouth with her fingers wistfully.
Moreover, “Washing Machine Heart” is an unconventional love song about a damaged relationship between Mitski and the person she’s addressing. “Toss your dirty shoes inside my washing machine heart / Baby, bang it up inside”, she sings, insinuating that Mitski’s knowingly entering a relationship that she knows will hurt and break her. “I know who you pretend I am,” she even admits, which she follows up by questioning “Do mi ti / Why not me?”. Though “Washing Machine Heart” is steeped in feelings of sadness and longing, Mitski plays it off coolly. It’s one of the things she does best–capturing those little bittersweet moments in your life and making art out of it.