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Mitski rises from the grave, releasing her new and anticipated album, Laurel Hell

Fans have been deprived of new music since 2018 with her release of Be the Cowboy, but in late 2019 Mitski announced that she would be on a hiatus. The sudden social media post of her new song, followed by an album and tour announcement, was a shock to many fans. 

In an interview with Pitchfork, Mitski revealed the reason why she came back to release her sixth studio album. This being her contract had required her to make one final album. 

Mitski’s first single release for the album was “Working for the Knife,” we see the themes of the feelings of unhappiness with your dreams. “I always thought the choice was mine/ And I was right, but I just chose wrong/ I start the day lying and end with the truth/ That I’m dying for the knife.” 

Mitski has never shied away from writing about her emotions and this album is no different. 

Laurel Hell opens up with “Valentine, Texas” and we see Mitski returning back to the dark. “Let’s step carefully into the dark/ Once we’re in, I’ll remember my way around.” The opener seems very minimal at first but in the middle, there is an explosion of what feels like fireworks. 

“Stay Soft” follows a dreamy disco rhythm but the theme of the song follows the numbness of trying to survive. “You stay soft, get eaten/ Only natural to harden up.” 

Mitski gave up music ultimately to have to return again which she acknowledges in “Everyone.”  “Sometimes, I think I am free / Until I find I’m back in line again.” 

In the slow burner “Heat Lightning,” Mitksi captures the feelings of anxiety taking over. “There’s nothing I can do, not much I can change/ I give it up to you, I surrender.” 

Mitski is not confined to one specific sound, in “The Only Heartbreaker,” there is a blood-pumping rhythm to it. 

In “Love Me More,” we hear an 80’s pop synth while she pleads for reciprocation. “I need you to love me more, love me more/ love me more, love me more/ love enough to fill me up.” 

“There’s Nothing Left for You” starts off slow but as the song progresses, we hear synths of guitars that quickly disappear as if it was a figment of our imagination. Mitski in this song expresses the feeling of being emotionally over a relationship. “Nothing waits for you/ You had it once before/ Not anymore.”  

In “Should’ve Been Me,” we hear the dead ends of a relationship, seeing the previous partner date someone similar to you. “When I saw the girl looked  just like me/ I thought, “must be lonely loving someone”/ Tryna to find their way out of a maze.” 

“I Guess” is an internal monolog, it is short and sweet. “I’ll have to learn to be somebody else/ It’s been you and me since before I was me.” 

The closing song of Laurel Hell, “That’s Our Lamp”  sounds like a credit roll for the album and takes on the role of disco-sounding music with the classical Mitski confessional lyricism. “You say you love me/ I believe you do/ But I walk down and up and down/ And up and down this street/ ‘Cause you just don’t like me/ Not like you used to.”  

Laurel Hell stretched Mitski thin on a tightrope but invites people to fully immerse themselves into the album. 

Tag us at @HerCampusSJSU on Instagram and let us know your favorite song off of Laurel Hell! 

My song ranking: 

  1. Should’ve Been Me 
  2. That’s Our Lamp 
  3. Love Me More 
  4. There’s Nothing Left for You 
  5. The Only HeartBreaker 
  6. Stay Soft 
  7. Valentine, Texas 
  8. Everyone 
  9. Heat Lightning 
  10. Working for the Knife 
  11. I Guess 
Lesley Rodriguez is currently a third year journalism major attending San Jose State University.
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