The prodigal Mitski

Aisha: Honestly, when I first heard the name Mitski, I thought it was a hard metal rock band, so to say the least, I was a bit surprised and relieved when I found out Mitski was a young female indie/alternative artist. Her new album, Laurel Hell, features experienced, natural vocals with a variety of background accompaniment.

She does a splendid job of ordering the songs so as to keep the album interesting, but it still fits with her tone and the beats produced in the background. The sound of “Laurel Hell” gives essence of 70’s and 80’s music with the instruments used: piano, electric guitar, bass, and synths. I would even say it’s ABBA-esque as her album contains ethereal and up-tempo songs.

Let’s drive out to where dust devils are made/By dancing ghosts as they kick up clouds of sand

– Mitski in the song “Valentine Texas” from Laurel Hell

My favorite song from the album is “Should’ve Been Me”. It immediately starts with a strong upbeat tempo and a few piano chords and slowly transitions guitar strums when Mitski starts singing. The background progresses to a crescendo until the chorus which is immensley satisfying after the anticipation of the verse before it. The chorus is a real ear-worm, getting stuck in the head for hours. Finally the song ends with a lively instrumental, bringing it to an enjoyable conclusion.

Overall, as a first time listener, I highly recommend Mitski for her slower ethereal songs and her fun fast paced songs, and because of Laurel Hell, I definitely plan on getting into some of her earlier music as well.

Atticus: Mitski Miyawaki recently re-entered the music scene after two years of respite from the public eye with her newest album Laurel Hell. While her earlier work is generally more acoustic, Miyawaki leans into synth-pop for Laurel Hell.

The majority of people who listen to indie music know of Mitskii, at least peripherally, She’s often placed in the category of “sad” music, however, I find this idea to be rather reductive, while most of her music is for sure melancholic, it explores a wide range of themes

For example, feelings of alienation Miyawaki experiences as a biracial Japanese-American woman in songs like “Your Best American Girl” and “Strawberry Blonde,” as well as themes of attempting escape from the aforementioned melancholy by throwing herself into life, in songs like “Townie” and “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars.”

The second track on the album, “Working for the Knife,” is an explanation of why Mitski has shrouded herself from the public eye. It’s an exploration of the aforementioned themes of exploitation and obsession. The title, “Working for the Knife” shows a self awareness in the fact that the speaker is being exploited, however, in the line “I cry at the start of every movie/I guess ‘cause I wish I was making things too” Mitski displays how she is drawn back to the very thing that hurts her, because it also brings her life.

Throughout the album, there’s an echoing reverb sound effect over Mitski’s voice, which conveys an air of dissociation, not only from the self, but from time as well, which really comes through in the many songs Mitski pairs the ethereal vocals with a driving beat. She also uses the same vocal effect in tandem with this sort of musical overstimulation derived from complexly overlaid instrumentals.

Her love of creating features prominently in many tracks on the album, but it’s often paired with commentary on, and nearer the end, acceptance of the negative aspects of the industry, as well as her journey to accept that “there’s nothing [she] can do/not much [she] can change” about it in her song “Heat Lightning.”

Overall, this album feels like a new Mitski, someone who has experienced more and processed those experiences more thoroughly, as well as someone who wants to explain her abscess from public life, but is not apologetic for taking the time she needs to heal.