“Laurel Hell”: the album that expresses enmity towards the music industry

After her two year hiatus from the music industry, Mitsuki comes back with her sixth-studio album

Roman Pallotto, Arts & Culture Writer

On February 4, Mitski dropped her long-awaited album after a two year hiatus. The album called “Laurel Hell” consists of 11 songs. Her genre of music could be classified as indie-pop, however the songs of this album classify more as standard pop and rock. Before the release of the album she announced the lead single and the second track of the album titled, “Working for the Knife.” She also released three more tracks before the February 4 release of the entire album. 

Mitski’s albums are known to the public for their intense lyricism and huge mental strain expressed through the songs. Her work has received a plethora of praise and attention especially from teenagers. Her music about mental health and her state of mind has thousands of teenagers and young adults relating to her on a personal level. However, Mitski feels discomfort with the way fans express their love for her because they truly don’t know her. Even with this in mind, she feels as though without her fanbase she wouldn’t be here. The music industry as a whole has taken a tremendous toll on her mental health, which is the reason for her hiatus back in 2019. 

The tracks of this album really stick out in a weird but interesting way. Mitski expresses her discomfort with the music industry in the lead single “Working for the Knife.” In this track she conveys that all the work she has put into the music industry was not worth it. Even in the title of the track it states that she is working FOR the knife. In this situation the knife could represent things like capitalism or an oppressive force. Despite wanting to make music since childhood, she soon began to regret her decision of being in the industry. 

Mitski has stated in the past how she values lyrics and melodies over instrumentation. “Laurel Hell” however, seems to have some contradictory songs to this belief. Songs like “The Only Heartbreaker” and “Love Me More” have 80s-inspired instrumentations and almost seem to drown out her lyrics compared to her other pieces of work. These instrumentations although have a bigger part of the song compared to her normal tracks still bring something to the songs so intriguing and different. 

While this album strays away from her regular work it has still amassed an overall satisfactory rating. According to metacritic, “Laurel Hell” receives a metascore of 83 out of 100 and a user score of 8.9 out of 10. These scores are based on 26 critic reviews and 36 user ratings. The only issue some fans have with this album is that it is not very cohesive and seems a bit thrown together. Taking into consideration that this album consists of pop rock songs and beautiful ballads it’s almost bound to happen. 

Personally, I really enjoyed this album and think it is a perfect album for people like myself who haven’t listened to Mitski much before this. If you’re someone who likes heavily emotional and deep songs, Mitski is the perfect artist. For some ongoing Mitski fans this album may strike as something different than usual, but there are many different elements this album has to offer that could open up your mindset towards Mitski’s music. I really enjoyed the 80s-style pop that some of the songs have mixed in with her emotional lyrics. Overall, this album for me was a great introduction to Mitski’s work and I definitely plan on exploring her other albums.