At the Gates of Laurel Hell: Mitski Review

A few weeks ago, critically acclaimed artist, Mitski, released her sixth studio album, Laurel Hell. As a big Mitski fan, I’ll admit, when the singles for the album came out, I was a little skeptical of the new album. The songs weren’t bad. They were just different and not exactly her best work. However, after the album came out, any doubts I had were dismissed. While still not being her best album (in my opinion, at least), I think it is actually really difficult to make the argument that it is not a good album.

Mitski for The FADER

This album on a whole is a lot different than Mitski’s old music. Mitski takes inspiration from 80s synth-pop, although I’m not sure how many people are gonna be dancing to this album as the subject matter in the songs is still very sad, very depressing, and very Mitski. 

The album starts off with “Valentine, Texas”. Before listening to the album, I saw so many people talking about this album on Twitter. I won’t lie — this song disappointed me a little bit, at first. But after listening to this album on repeat, I understand the appeal. It is a really well-written song with some really great lyrics and orchestrations.

“Working for the Knife” Music Video

For example, the song “Stay Soft” is pretty upbeat, but when you listen to the lyrics, you can tell something’s up. She’s singing about unhealthy relationships and the unhealthy use of sex in them. 

The song “Should’ve Been Me”, clearly takes inspiration from Daryl Hall & John Oates“Maneater” and Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”. It’s interesting that these songs are the inspiration because the themes of “Should’ve Been Me” are pretty different. This song is about Mitski’s loneliness, jealousy, and regret.

People that know Mitski’s music know that these themes are not new to her, by any means. And perhaps that’s why this album doesn’t feel like her best. She is certainly expanding her musical range, but, in terms of songwriting, there does not seem to be anything new. 

That being said, there are moments within the album that Mitski doesn’t hide anything and straight out displays her emotions and thoughts. “There’s Nothing Left For You” is one of those songs. It is my favorite from the album and honestly might be one of my favorites from her discography. She essentially yells in this song, and it is powerful. 

Overall, I think Mitski still has some stuff to show us. She’s constantly exploring different genres, and I’m confident that she’ll always surprise us. That being said, I look forward to how she grows in her future projects.

Mitski in Concert

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