Different is Good, Laurel Hell

Fifty percent 80’s pop & rock, fifty percent 2010’s indie: one hundred Mitski. Albums Lush, Retired in Sad, New Career in Business, Puberty 2, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, Be the Cowboy and now, after a long wait, Laurel Hell, the black sheep of Mitski’s discography.

On Feb. 4, 2022, Japanese-American indie artist, Mitski, released her sixth studio album, Laurel Hell. This is her return to the spotlight after a two-year hiatus. Her music is known for being incredibly personal to her. Her songs are about love, heartbreak and mental health.

The album starts out with Valentine, Texas. This song’s lyrics are slow, steady and meaningful. As I listened to this song I felt like I was ascending into the heavens. Only one other introduction song of hers is like this, “Texas Reznikoff.” It is a perfect introduction to this 80’s pop-inspired album. Amazing song, and easily my favorite of the album.

The next song is also the first song to be released to the public, entitled “Working for the Knife.” This song sets the mood for the rest of the album, depressing lyrics to the grooviest of beats. This song is by far not my favorite, it can get incredibly repetitive, which makes sense because this song is about burnout: working, living, and dying for the knife.

Stay Soft is the third song on the album, and is the first upbeat song. Its instrumentation and the overall vibe are incredibly 80’s pop. I vibe with the song. It is the best stand-alone song on the album. The instrumentation, her voice, the lyrics; everything about this song is amazing. Mitski herself described the song in three words: sex, trauma and disco.

“Everyone” is the fourth song on the album. I love the instrumentation of this song, It is just perfect for the lyrics. In this song, the background music feels overbearing, but that is why it is perfect. The song is about the taboo with going into the music industry. She sings about how everyone warned her not to open a door into the dark. The dark and the creature that lives inside it are not good. And how she urged on this creature, that we as the listeners can’t do anything but hope that she is okay, to come in and greet her. She recounts at the end of the song how she didn’t know anything. Going back to instrumentation, I love how the piano comes in at the end. The best way to listen to this song is laying in your bed, helpless, recounting memories that you regret. It can be boring if you aren’t in that mood though. It is a perfect song to cry about your regrets to.

At this point, we have seen the first impression of this album, different; it’s very much about the music industry and how it squeezes out all of your juice and leaves you a hollow husk of what you once were. In my personal experience as a music student, it can be very easy to get burnt out quickly. I remember hating music from late eighth grade to late freshman year. I only recently re-fell in love with music. It’s draining, but I love it. I can’t help but get cut down by this Sword of Damocles.

All in all, this album is almost perfect. Mitski is amazing at writing clever metaphors, and lyrics, but also at making it all sound good. It is so much fun to listen to this and find the subtle meanings inside the lyrics, I love this album. I recommend that you go listen to this album and go listen to Mitski.