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Mitski|Laurel Hell

Laurel Hell

Mitski

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In 2018, singer-songwriter Mitski (Miyawaki) released the much-acclaimed Be the Cowboy. Just over a year later, she announced that she was taking a break—from touring, from social media; in other words, from the public eye. "I sense that if I don't step away soon, my self-worth/identity will start depending too much on staying in the game, in the constant churn. I don't want to make art like that," she tweeted. Now, you can hear exactly what she was wrestling with—and how—on her seventh studio album, Laurel Hell. The lyrically devastating "Working for the Knife" is an up-close self-examination of one's creative reality and dashed dreams: "I cry at the start of every movie I guess/ ’cause I wish I was making things too/ But I’m working for the knife." It would be too flip to call it the sound of a quarter-life crisis; it's more the realization that successful art is a commodity, complete with horns mocking your pain. At once strident and dreamy, it brings to mind Tori Amos. "Stay Soft" is the natural follow-up to how you deal with the vagaries of the world. "You stay soft, get beaten/ Only natural to harden up," Mitski sings against a chill dancefloor track. Like much of the record, it is delightfully '80s-inflected, vibrating with appealingly plasticky synth and crisp percussion. So are "The Only Heartbreaker," which sounds like the soundtrack for a movie nightclub scene from that era, and "Love Me More"—a slow burn that builds to a frenzy of Mitski chanting "clean me up, clean me up." "Should've Been Me" is Top 40 joyous in the vein of a Phil Collins song—all jangling melody, wild blares and finger-snap-style percussion. It could be read as an apology for checking out: "I haven’t given you what you need/ You wanted me but couldn’t reach me/ I’m sorry, it should’ve been me." Hymn-like "I Guess" is about the end of a relationship, but the song's so dreamy and malleable that it could be romantic or platonic love, about another person or a once-passionate goal. "That's Our Lamp" is more clear. As the narrator leaves home after a fight with her partner, she sees things, literally, from the outside and reaches the realization that you can love someone without liking them—a conclusion that triggers a swell of street and crowd sounds to momentarily drown out the pain. WIth the longest song clocking in at just 3:47, these are perfect little portals to remind you that singular ache and longing can be remarkably universal. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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Laurel Hell

Mitski

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1
Valentine, Texas
00:02:35

Brooke Waggoner, AssociatedPerformer - Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

2
Working for the Knife
00:02:38

Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Mitski Miyawaki, Composer, Lyricist

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

3
Stay Soft
00:03:16

Brooke Waggoner, AssociatedPerformer - Elizabeth Chan, AssociatedPerformer - Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

4
Everyone
00:03:47

Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

5
Heat Lightning
00:02:51

Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

6
The Only Heartbreaker
00:03:04

Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2021 Dead Oceans

7
Love Me More
00:03:32

Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

8
There's Nothing Left for You
00:02:52

Elizabeth Chan, AssociatedPerformer - Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

9
Should've Been Me
00:03:11

Elizabeth Chan, AssociatedPerformer - Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - K. Marie Kim, AssociatedPerformer - Evan Marien, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

10
I Guess
00:02:15

Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

11
That's Our Lamp
00:02:24

Elizabeth Chan, AssociatedPerformer - Mitski, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - K. Marie Kim, AssociatedPerformer - Evan Marien, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Hyland, Producer, AssociatedPerformer

2022 Dead Oceans 2022 Dead Oceans

Album Description

In 2018, singer-songwriter Mitski (Miyawaki) released the much-acclaimed Be the Cowboy. Just over a year later, she announced that she was taking a break—from touring, from social media; in other words, from the public eye. "I sense that if I don't step away soon, my self-worth/identity will start depending too much on staying in the game, in the constant churn. I don't want to make art like that," she tweeted. Now, you can hear exactly what she was wrestling with—and how—on her seventh studio album, Laurel Hell. The lyrically devastating "Working for the Knife" is an up-close self-examination of one's creative reality and dashed dreams: "I cry at the start of every movie I guess/ ’cause I wish I was making things too/ But I’m working for the knife." It would be too flip to call it the sound of a quarter-life crisis; it's more the realization that successful art is a commodity, complete with horns mocking your pain. At once strident and dreamy, it brings to mind Tori Amos. "Stay Soft" is the natural follow-up to how you deal with the vagaries of the world. "You stay soft, get beaten/ Only natural to harden up," Mitski sings against a chill dancefloor track. Like much of the record, it is delightfully '80s-inflected, vibrating with appealingly plasticky synth and crisp percussion. So are "The Only Heartbreaker," which sounds like the soundtrack for a movie nightclub scene from that era, and "Love Me More"—a slow burn that builds to a frenzy of Mitski chanting "clean me up, clean me up." "Should've Been Me" is Top 40 joyous in the vein of a Phil Collins song—all jangling melody, wild blares and finger-snap-style percussion. It could be read as an apology for checking out: "I haven’t given you what you need/ You wanted me but couldn’t reach me/ I’m sorry, it should’ve been me." Hymn-like "I Guess" is about the end of a relationship, but the song's so dreamy and malleable that it could be romantic or platonic love, about another person or a once-passionate goal. "That's Our Lamp" is more clear. As the narrator leaves home after a fight with her partner, she sees things, literally, from the outside and reaches the realization that you can love someone without liking them—a conclusion that triggers a swell of street and crowd sounds to momentarily drown out the pain. WIth the longest song clocking in at just 3:47, these are perfect little portals to remind you that singular ache and longing can be remarkably universal. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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