Label: Dead Oceans
Released: 4th February 2022
Not meaning to deal in understatements, but it’s been a weird few years. A lot has happened since the release of 2018’s ‘Be The Cowboy’ – the record that turned Mitski from cult fave to cover star concern. For the person behind the record, maybe not all of it has been as shiny and perfect as one might expect.
Starting work on the tracks that would make up new full-length ‘Laurel Hell’ during or even before the period that saw her fame escalate so rapidly, this is a record in reaction to Mitski’s experiences of the time and the music she was making. Songs that speak of – in her own words – “real relationships, not power struggles to be won or lost”, they’re honest, affecting and brilliant.
Take centrepiece ‘The Only Heartbreaker’. Quite possibly the most out-rightly obvious pop song in her catalogue to date, it’s a track that understands that sometimes we’re all going to be the bad guy. While the subject matters might sit in the grey areas, musically, ‘Laurel Hell’ often packs extra pep. ‘Stay Soft’, with its finger clicks and piano chords, feels like a warm and welcoming place, while ‘Love Me More’ soars with its increasingly desperate pleas flying high.
With depth and intent matched to bright but deceptively complex 80s sheen, ‘Laurel Hell’ is a record that takes Mistki’s existing talents and raises them to a whole new level.