Reviewing Mitski’s Latest Releases From Her Upcoming Album

Courtesy of Rolling Stones

Courtesy of Rolling Stones

Popular indie musician Mitsuki Laycock, widely known as Mitski, has gained a dedicated fan base over the course of her career. Beginning in 2012 with her debut album Lush, her legacy continued on into 2018, with her latest album Be the Cowboy. Mitski consistently makes waves in the music industry, and is renowned for her expert lyricism and impeccable vocal skill. She has announced the release of her newest album Laurel Hell to occur in February of 2022. Until then, she released three of the tracks as singles, to provide a sneak peek into her latest collection.

The first single, released in October, is titled Working for the Knife. This song, while certainly containing the typical Mitski-esque sound common in her discography, stands quite uniquely compared to her other works. There is no chorus, but instead five verses. The back-track sounds heavy and defeated, mirroring the content of her lyrics. She repeats the line “I’m working for the knife”, exemplifying how she feels her life is filled with endless toil and meaningless work. She ends the fourth verse with “I’m living for the knife”, and closes the entire song with “I’m dying for the knife”. This use of repetition and intentional replacement of verbs truly encapsulates the defeated, pessimistic nature of her song. It is a relatable sentiment, especially for students who feel overwhelmed by their seemingly infinite workload.

This release was followed by that of The Only Heartbreaker, in November of this year. This song, being much more up-beat than Working for the Knife, derives clear inspiration from 80’s-style music; the introduction and back-track of the song sounds reminiscent of Micheal Jackson’s Thriller. Many of Mitski’s songs touch on themes of heartbreak, loneliness, and unhealthy relationships. While this song is no different, it is unique in that it’s tone is one of empowerment and rebellion. Mitski proclaims that she will take the power back, and be the only one to break hearts. Her vocals truly shine in this song, and her tone control is impossible to ignore.

Mitskis third and final single from her upcoming album is titled Heat Lightning, and debuted in December. To describe this song in a word: defeated. There is truly not a song in Mitskis discography that sounds at all similar to Heat Lightning. Its back-track and introduction seems to draw inspiration from 1960’s rock and roll, sounding reminiscent of The Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs. According to the National Weather Service, heat lightning is a phenomenon in which one can see lightning from a distant storm, but cannot hear its accompanying thunder. Mitski uses this to symbolize the feeling of impending doom, resolving that “there’s nothing [she] can do, not much [she] change”. There is no happy ending and no silver lining, making it the most heart-breaking of Mitskis latest releases.

Regarding the three songs, I would rank them as Heat Lightning, Working for the Knife, and The Only Heartbreaker in order of best to worst. The sound and defeated tone in Heat Lightning is simply too powerful to ignore, as is the extraordinary lyricism in Working for the Knife. However, the passion found in The Only Heartbreaker also makes it an exciting release. Despite this, the nature of Mitski’s art makes one’s preference intensely personal and up to interpretation. There is certainly no single correct ranking.

Personally, my view is that Mitski has yet to release a bad song. As such, I am eagerly awaiting the release of Laurel Hell, and feel the already-published singles foreshadow an incredible album.