A Bittersweet Exiting Album
Review: Mitski’s Laurel Hell
June 15, 2022
Looking for a new catchy album to listen to? Perhaps wanting to try something different? Well, you’re in luck; Mitski’s new and presumed final album Laurel Hell is perfect for you.
Laurel Hell explores Mitski’s conflicted relationship with stardom. She sings about feeling trapped in fame, about wanting to leave the spotlight but fearing aimlessness, with retro themes and techno rhythms creating an exciting listening experience.
The wait is finally over after 31 year old Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski released her long-awaited Laurel Hell on February 4th, 2022. The album has 11 songs and is a half an hour long of creative, indie, electronic pop.
The heavily 80’s inspired composure was written over the course of three and a half years. Mitski started writing the album back in 2018 and 2019, and finished recording throughout the Covid-19 lockdown. This album drop was a bittersweet treat to fans after she announced her exit from the music industry in 2019 at the final show of her Be The Cowboy album tour. The star tweeted that a life of touring was taking a heavy toll on her mental health, and that she needed an indefinite break, later deleting the tweet along with the rest of her social media.
Laurel Hell was the biggest-selling record in the US for the first week of its release. Written in equal parts of moving 80’s inspired pop jams and captivating electronic themes, Mitski’s hotly anticipated album does not disappoint.
According to Mitski, the album title is a folk term for being trapped in thickets of laurel that grow in the southern Appalachian Mountains. This album will be her 2nd highest grossing, following her 2012 album Lush.
Amazingly memorable synth riffs are focal points in songs like “Love Me More” and “The Only Heartbreaker,” bringing a defined ‘80s sound to the more poppy songs. Mitski has mastered the art of a perfect karaoke jam, with lyrics like “I need you to love me more,” combined with the sing-your-heart-out chorus. These songs pair well together in the middle of the album, with their obvious nostalgia and cascading synths. “Working for the Knife,” the first single released for the album, is a withdrawal to the previous songs, adding distorted guitars with Mitski’s thoughtful lyrics.
In regards to slower songs, “Valentine, Texas” is the highlight. With tension-building chord progressions that honor Mitski’s classical roots, this song has it all and is masterfully balanced. Plucky strings accompany lines like, “who will I be tonight,” and set the tone for the album as the first track. “Everyone” and “I Guess” both play on the synth-done as well, adding haunting and soothing themes to the album; as usual, Mitski brings all the drama. All of the softer songs bring a soundtrack element to Laurel Hell that are just as intriguing as the powerful pop tracks, contributing to a perfect blend of an album.
Laurel Hell is a must-listen, with no doubt. These dancy songs are bound to be hits, as they all inspire impromptu dancing in your living room. While the hole in the music industry Mitski is leaving may never be filled, this album is the perfect fun-loving goodbye gift from the talented artist.