Singer-songwriter Mitski has elevated her music with stellar production on her new album Laurel Hell. After four years without a new release, Mitski debuted Laurel Hell on Feb. 4, and it stands out from the artist’s already incredible discography.
The production of Laurel Hell is the standout feature of the album. The catchy opening beats of “The Only Heartbreaker” immediately draw the listener in, and the song only gets better as Mitski adds more rhythmic layers. The hypnotizing slow-build pattern continues throughout the album. Many songs start off with intoxicating beats that sound like they’re straight from the ’80s and find a way to get even catchier as they progress.
With vibrant and lively production, “Should’ve Been Me” seems like a lighthearted tune with its bright beats, but the devastating lyrics counter this sound. Mitski creates a rich contrast in many of her songs as they are musically full of life but loaded with emotional lyrics. She sings “When I saw the girl looked just like me / I thought, ‘must be lonely loving someone.’” The song nails the contrast between feelings of inadequacy in a romantic relationship but still being hurt when a partner moves on.
Mitski creates striking imagery of natural phenomena that adds a layer of imaginative richness to her songs. In “Valentine, Texas,” Mitski sings of swirling “dust devils,” or clouds of sand kicked up by dancing ghosts. The slow, almost eerie beginning to the song adds to the haunting imagery of her lyrics. This artistry permeates the entire album and makes it a beautiful listen.
The sole aspect of Laurel Hell that falls flat is Mitski’s vocals. The album doesn’t show off her incredible vocals as much as her other works do. Songs like “Me and My Husband” on her previous album Be the Cowboy are musically impressive because Mitski’s voice explodes with emotion. It’s disappointing that the new album does not fully showcase Mitski’s vocal prowess, but Laurel Hell’s other high points pick up the slack.
Mitski’s nine tracks of Laurel Hell leave her audience still wanting more. Still, Mitski doesn’t waste a single moment on the album. Mitski has had more vocally impressive performances in the past, but Laurel Hell is another outstanding addition to her discography.
Featured Image Courtesy of Dead Oceans