‘Laurel Hell’ to break the world

Mitski slays once more


Fair use from Dead Oceans

Elena Ortiz-Fishman

Nobody does melancholy like Mitski.

Long-awaited, her newest album, “Laurel Hell,” felt like being submerged in a can of coke — fizzy, bright and spilling over the edges. As a precursor to this release, Mitski has been teasing fans with impressive singles: “Heat Lightning,” “Working for the Knife,” “Love Me More” and “The Only Heartbreaker.” 

Of those, “Working for the Knife“ excelled. Being my favorite song on the album, it denounced the capitalistic deluge we find ourselves trapped in day-to-day, and criticized this very cycle. Following these songs, the hype for the newest addition to the Mitski-verse has been building up. My expectations have been growing, and they were met with a pop.

This album has so much to offer, and is differentiated from the norm in several key ways. In her past pieces, Mitski’s discography boasts slow, disconsolate songs, lamenting about the woes and triumphs of life. In “Laurel Hell,” I was surprised in my first listen-through to hear more bright, pop, dance-style songs. Looking deeper, though, these songs still share the classic despairing tone of all Mitski songs, looming under the cracked and peeling edges. 

Such as in “Should’ve Been Me,” she did a great job of hooking in listeners with catchy background music filled with chimes and synth. Then, listening closer to the lyrics reveals the underlying insecurities everyone feels. 

The first song of the album was “Valentine, Texas“ — a song that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Mitski. Mixing together the complementary concepts of cowboy-vibes and tragic love, this was immediately my favorite. The imagery this song emits is of dusty nights, a glimmering fire and a smog-eaten sky. The gloomy aura perpetuated through the final chords resonated deeply with me. 

Posted at the same time of the album release was the music video for “Stay Soft.“ In a garden of Eden-esque landscape, the video shows Mitski giving the performance of a lifetime: cutting her hand open for a carnivorous flower, running from monsters and assuming world dominance, all executed in beautiful, artistic fervor. 

My second favorite, topping off one of the last songs of the album, “I Guess,” was perfect in every way. The dragging piano melody felt like sticking your head in a goldfish bowl and shaking it around a little bit. The underwater, suffocating quality exacerbated the long-held message Mitski is sending: you are alone and no one loves you. 

Every element of the album was executed to perfection, justly encapsulating feelings of hope, loss, doom and overwhelming yearning. Mitski leaves us all with one question: who have I become tonight? What type of person will I be tomorrow? 

‘Laurel Hell’- ★★★★★