Mitski’s new album “Laurel Hell” is musical Heaven


Mitski’s new album “Laurel Hell” is musical Heaven

By Ella McCarthy, Intern

Mitski’s new album, “Laurel Hell,” which was released on Feb. 4, reveals her vulnerability over the span of 11 songs while featuring a more uptempo style than usual. Whether it be a song of depression, dependence or acceptance, Mitski sings with a generally softer voice but balances it with a level of conviction in her own unique alternative, indie rock way.

Mitski instantly captivates her listeners with her first song in the album’s lineup, “Valentine, Texas.” It starts out slow and soft like many of her songs do, and while her singing alone can give her audience chills, the instrumentals she incorporates do just the same. What hooked me was the breakthrough of instrumentals that came in midway, where her singing sounds as if it’s harmonizing with the added instruments. This made for a beautiful shift and immediately disrupted that softer tone for the remainder of the song.

In “Love Me More,” Mitski tells a complex story where she tackles what can be interpreted as an inner struggle with herself and her career, singing, “But when I’m done singing this song, I will have to find something else to do to keep me here.” These lyrics convey her dependence on her music and uncertainty of what to do with herself. She continues saying how she needs enough love to “drown it out,” leaving her listeners to think that she’s using her music and romantic relationships as an outlet to dealing with the darker aspects in life that she sings about in her opener “Valentine, Texas.”

Mitski took a different stylistic approach to her single in the album, “The Only Heartbreaker.” With its 1980s and synth pop-rock style, along with her signature echoey voice track, this song makes you want to get up and dance. We hear her using an upbeat instrumental backtrack while still keeping her lyrics heartfelt, which is a contrast to her typical soft lyrics and soft backtrack combination. 

Mitski wraps up her album with “That’s Our Lamp,” where she expresses a sad acceptance with a certain relationship. The end of the song breaks into a repetition of the lyrics “Thinking that’s where you loved me, that’s where you loved me,” with a vocal track behind it echoing mixed conversation and laughing. The added vocal track was a really creative touch as I felt like I was hearing a memory and her reminiscing on what her relationship used to be.

Despite the album’s many great songs, I wish she incorporated a larger vocal range like how she has in the past with her other album, “Be the Cowboy.” In addition, I found some of her songs to be significantly less memorable, like “Everyone,” and “I Guess.” In spite of this, Mitski definitely delivered a good album considering the high standard her past albums have set. 

All in all, “Laurel Hell” is a beautifully composed album that dives deep into the emotions and vulnerability of who Mitski is. She creates music that not only specifies to her personal life, but transcends into her listeners lives where they too can see themselves in her music despite its complexity. I think that is an ideal quality of an artist–being able to emotionally connect to their audience. For these reasons, I give it four out of five stars.