Mitski’s ‘The Only Heartbreaker’ reinvents what it means to harness self-love and doubt in a relationship

The second release from Mitski this autumn season, but does it deserve the praise?


Courtesy of the official Mitski Facebook account

By Sierra Thornton, Staff Writer

After the unanimous praise and success of “Working for the Knife,” which boasts over 10 million plays on Spotify in just five weeks, fans were excited for what was to come. Luckily, they would not have to wait long. On Nov. 8, Mitski took to social media again, alluding the drop of a new single and leaving fans less than 24 hours to prepare once again.

However, no amount of preparation could allow listeners worldwide to appropriately grasp their bearings the latest single, “The Only Heartbreaker.” Both songs will be featured on her upcoming album, “Laurel Hell,” despite having different motifs and themes in their lyrics and sound. While “Working for the Knife” is about passion for the artistic craft being lost under capitalism, “The Only Heartbreaker” shifts gears to the familiar topic of love and self-doubt.

Feeling as though she is the imperfect one in the relationship, Mitski takes the burden of all the mistakes in her relationships. She finds herself constantly apologizing and accepting blame without much pushback. If listeners don’t pay attention to the incredibly gutting lyricism, the upbeat tone of the electric backings could trick the brain into thinking this is a joyful song. Echoing the signature sonics of the 80s era, the positive instrumentation could be employed as a device to mask how the relationship is going. When you don’t peer too deeply into the cycle of blame and doubt, the connection between Mitski and her partner appears well and good.

Accompanying the single is yet another cinematic music video, one with a different atmosphere to “Working for the Knife.” While the former release’s video being more grounded in reality and stripped down, this one is much more elaborate and mystical in nature, both metaphorically and literally. Trapped in a flourishing forest that goes on for miles, the landscape seems to thrive on its own. Each contact made by Mitski’s feet and fingertips cause mushrooms to shrivel and plants to decay before her eyes. She is seen distraught, wanting to see the forestation flourish despite the outcome being the same despairing and lifeless results. The color around her drips away and contours into a puddle of grays and deep blues, thus allowing her bold red dress to stand out more than before, always in a clear shot no matter the camera angle. As the video continues, she spirals out of control as the once beautiful world distorts into a fire-filled rage. Ultimately, the music video ends mysteriously as the planet implodes and a brief shot of Mitski in white falls unconscious.

Per usual, the video has been analyzed to pieces by Mitski’s fans in hopes to connect past releases and predict future songs. Given that the windows and architecture vaguely resemble the cover of her third album, “Bury Me At Makeout Creek,”  this single’s atmosphere directly references past lyrics. On her fourth studio album “Puberty 2” the closing song, “A Burning Hill,”  houses these lines: “And I’ve been a forest fire/ I am a forest fire/ And I am the fire, and I am the forest/ And I am a witness watching it.” This directly parallels the visuals of the video, making fans wonder what she recently announced the album will sound like overall and if it will have a coherent theme. Despite the guessing and theories, Mitski fans will eagerly wait for the album, or another surprise drop, in the meantime.

Sierra Thornton can be reached at [email protected]