Be the Cowboy is simultaneously Mitski’s most and least conventionally pop album to date and the most dramatic pivot in her discography. Her sparkly lean-away from a blatantly “indie rock” sound screams “pop!” at the top of its lungs, but a closer probe at song structures that dodge repetition and defy verse/chorus conventions exposes a warped shape of what a pop song can be. Her fresh sonic direction was a conscious effort on her part, informed by the desire to progress as an artist and the fear of the same stagnance she’s seen other artists fall into when they get too comfortable.