Despite it being her sixth album, the buzz around Japanese-American songwriter Mitski has remained swarming. Her recent success on TikTok is understandable, and her music has a whole generation in an emotional chokehold, that she won’t be losing grip of anytime soon, especially with the brilliance of newest album ‘Laurel Hell.’

Mitski - Laurel Hell

Mitski – Laurel Hell

The synthy opening track ‘Valentine, Texas’ soon turns into the soundtrack for a cursed ballroom dance, setting a soul-stirring timbre for the following tracks. ‘Working For the Knife’ sent the internet into a storm, with it being Mitski’s first single from her return, this excitement is still prevalent, her intricate lyricisms partnering flawlessly with her dulcet vocals are an evident success that her career is built on (and rightfully so.) Mitski’s lyrics are constantly varied, touching on multiple topics while still appealing to the masses. Her fluidity is most notable on tracks such as ‘Stay Soft’ which possess an erotic subject matter but also on tracks such as ‘Everybody,’ which completely switch the subject focus and moves back to a more heart-rending, typical-Mitkski, set of lyrics. It’s difficult to place Mitski’s music into a category, but that is what makes it so popular in a time of uncertainty. Listeners want to feel comfort in the chaos, and Mitski gifts this comfort with open arms. The vulnerability in tracks such as ‘Heat Lightning’ continue this rhetoric, with an exposed, desperate chant of “I surrender.” The album however does begin to pick up in merriment; confidence is discovered in ‘The Only Heartbreaker,’ with a 70’s style synth beat complying with the lyrics of self-love and trust. This new found confidence begins to take a hit, and the story unveiling in the album begins to speak of hopelessness. On ‘Love Me More’, Mitski portrays a lover begging for affection, and sacrificing herself to be loved. Monumental ‘There’s Nothing Left For You’ is arguably the most dominant track on the album, Mitski’s complex storytelling even begins to overpower the coming-of-age-style drumming and spectral, hollow track, that eventually dissolves into the notion of disarray. The album features a wide range of style influences, with the dominant theme being a 70’s style dance track, with somber storytelling, notable also on tracks such as ‘Should’ve Been Me,’ featuring delightfully depressing verses. This juxtaposition makes Mitski so relevant, allowing fans to twirl to their misery, proving it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom and the constant contradiction of emotions can exist. The penultimate track, ‘I Guess’ plummets the album into a pit of self-reflecting despair, one could assume this would be the final track, with multiple “Thank you’s” echoing and the theme of self awareness finally clicking. This transition ends beautifully on final track ‘That’s our Lamp,’ accepting the heartbreak while composing oneself and their identity, to an uplifting array of trumpets.

Throughout the new album, Mitski’s self-deprecating lyrics sway celestially with often up-beat backtracks, causing a beautiful clutter of confusion. ‘Laurel Hell’ is a fascinating collection of music that jumps from theme to theme, while still staying true to Mitski’s character.