Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Mitski’s anticipated sixth album ‘Laurel Hell’ is finally out

With ‘Laurel Hell’ finally here, how does it measure up to her past discography and pre-releases?
Courtesy of Mitski’s official Facebook page

Before diving into Mitski’s latest collection of music, it seems essential to explain why this release has created so much buzz and anticipation among fans and casual listeners alike.

Prior to the initial raindrop teaser that then led to a flood of pre-releases and music videos, Mitski had been on hiatus for quite a while. Her album, “Be the Cowboy,” was released on Aug. 17, 2018, which is approaching its four-year anniversary come the summertime. Since then, Mitski has only come out with two other songs—both at the start of 2020. The first, a song on the soundtrack for the movie “The Turning,” and the other being a feature on artist’s Allie X’s track “Susie Save Your Love.”

With Mitski’s hiatus came a new wave of people to discover her, thanks to social media. As many underrated stars experience, TikTok pushed Mitski to an audience who probably would have never found her on their own. When the pandemic first started, many of her songs like “Washing Machine Heart,” “Nobody,” “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars” and a plethora of others gained significant traction.  With new and old fans eagerly awaiting the full album, on Feb. 4, the album finally arrived.


“Valentine, Texas”

The opening track starts off with a low and steady beat. That is, until midway through the song where a chaotic intermission of high-techno beats characterizes the switch up. From this point onward, keys from the piano can be heard but with a disordered tone. These synths pair well with the lyrics and overall vibe of the song, with Mitski recounting simpler times while spiraling to remember who she is in the present moment. For an opening track, I think it works fairly well, especially in the lyrics: “Let’s step carefully into the dark/ Once we’re in, I’ll remember my way around/ Who will I be tonight?/ Who will I become tonight?” These lyrics seem to signify that the album will be exploring how Mitski sees herself, both in a relationship and alone.


“Stay Soft”

This is another song that came with a music video, much like the pre-releases. The song tackles the concept that after being beaten up repeatedly, a person will create a hard shell to protect themselves. The song’s sound is light and atmospheric, which contrasts nicely with the overall tone.



Sadly, I think “Everyone” is one of my least favorite tracks on the album. To pinpoint why, I think that the pacing is a tad slow. In between lines and verses, the pauses are jarring. The backing track is repetitive, which isn’t inherently bad, but just not up to my personal taste. The song tackles her struggle with rising to fame.


“There’s Nothing Left for You”

Contrary to “Everyone,” “There’s Nothing Left for You” works wondrously as a slow song. The pauses seem more meticulously placed, likely to provide time to appreciate the backing track, whose percussion is reminiscent of a heartbeat. Lyrically, Mitski sings about feeling as if she is living life at one rhythmic pace, but when her emotions get the better of her, the pace speeds up as if she’s having a panic attack, only to return moments later. The song also goes into her relationship with someone and how she feels hollow, with nothing more to offer. In the song, she might feel hollowed out, but “There’s Nothing Left for You” is full of heart.


“Should’ve Been Me”

By far, this is the song with the most global acclaim. All of my friends who have listened to this song adore it, and I have heard it many times on social media (it’s not exclusive to TikTok, either). Compared to the other slow songs released with the album, this is one of the only highly energized tracks. Within the instrumentals, there is a synth that reminds me of the childish tone of a xylophone and echoing piano. The message of the song is sorrowful, as she yearns for someone she can no longer reach.


“I Guess”

“I Guess” is the shortest track on the album, but it vitalizes its time well. It is not too flashy or contrived, but simple and clean. She mourns over the end of a relationship, not knowing who she is anymore without them. However, the song is not all gloom, as she ends it withFrom here, I can say, ‘Thank you’ / From here, I can tell you, ‘Thank you,’” giving us an optimistic ending.


“That’s Our Lamp”

Wrapping things up, “That’s Our Lamp” reminds me of a song that might play during an old sitcom or 90s rom-com movie. While I don’t think it’s intentional, the backing sound reminded me of TOTO’s “Africa” with its pepped-up and cow bell-like sound. The lyrics play with the pushing and pulling of a relationship where both individuals reminisce upon happier memories compared to now, with Mitski running outside after a fight.


With “Laurel Hill” finally released, the general opinion is overwhelmingly positive.  It seems as if fans will have no problem streaming to their hearts’ content, peacefully waiting until the next release from their favorite artist.


Sierra Thornton can be reached at [email protected].

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