Mitski - Laurel Hell

Regular price $ 27.99

Stepping back into her own shoes after the character-driven Be the Cowboy, Laurel Hell finds Mitski in a less volatile, more (but not completely) resigned state of mind as she reflects on persistent incompatibility with partners, perceived disinterest in what she has to offer, and an overriding ennui. While much of the album was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she found new meaning in songs that were recorded with longtime producer Patrick Hyland in the midst of prolonged periods of isolation -- a theme closely associated with Mitski's work since long before the viral threat. A bit of a slow builder with an almost cinematic trajectory, Laurel Hell begins with a droning, monotone pop and the lyrics "Let's step carefully into the dark/Once we're in, I'll remember my way around." That song, "Valentine, Texas," eventually introduces the slick '80s pop surfaces employed throughout Laurel Hell, with its shimmering synths, electric piano, and business-like drums often seeming like a false front given the deeply brooding nature of the album's lyrics. Even so, with 11 tracks clocking in at a total of around 30 minutes, Mitski gets to the point when she laments oppressive systems on "Working for the Knife," when she examines being drawn to darkness against a backdrop of industrial synths and late, swelling strings on "Everyone," and when demanding more of her lover on the driving synth pop track "Love Me More," which also includes the devastating stanza, "How do other people live?/I wonder how they keep it up/When today is finally done/There's another day to come/Then another day to come/Then another day to come." Following the exhausted, piano-based breakup dirge "I Guess" ("I guess this is the end/I'll have to learn to be somebody else"), Mitski closes the album on the sparkling, highly melodic "That's Our Lamp," which disco dances into the sunset while remembering being loved -- in the past tense.

1 Valentine, Texas 2:35
2 Working for the Knife 2:38
3 Stay Soft 3:16
4 Everyone 3:47
5 Heat Lightning 2:51
6 The Only Heartbreaker 3:04
7 Love Me More 3:32
8 There's Nothing Left Here for You 2:52
9 Should've Been Me 3:11
10 I Guess 2:15
11 That's Our Lamp 2:24