Ranking Mitski’s album, “Laurel Hell”
Mitski Miyawaki is a Japanese-American singer and songwriter from the Mie Prefecture in Japan. Her sixth studio album Laurel Hell was released on February 4th through her record label Dead Oceans. This is my ranking of the 11 songs from the album.
11 – “Everyone”
The fourth song on the album, “Everyone,” is mainly Mitski talking about her music career and her rise to fame. Personally, I believe the title is making a reference to her most popular song “Nobody,” where she talks about the alienation she felt while she was on tour. I enjoy the chords on this song and Mitski’s vocals, but in my opinion, it’s one of the more boring songs on the album, making it lower on the list.
Lyrics: “Sometimes I think I am free/Until I find I’m back in line again”
10 – “Valentine, Texas”
“Valentine, Texas” is the first song on Laurel Hell. To me, this song could be about Mitski foreshadowing a side of her in this album that her listeners have never known. The instruments that come in the middle of this song give the listener a sense of what’s to come for the rest of the album.
Lyrics: “Let me watch those mountains from underneath/And maybe they’ll finally/Float off of me”
9 – “Love Me More”
“Love Me More” reflects more on the choice Mitski made of becoming an artist. It could be perceived in a couple ways. It could be about wanting love in a relationship, either through a fan base or in a romantic way, or it could be about Mitski, or anyone else, learning how to love themselves. The song gives off an 80s pop vibe, with synths and a piano that builds up throughout the song. However, this song would be higher on the list for me if it wasn’t as repetitive.
Lyrics: “I wish that this would go away/But when I’m done singing this song/I will have to find something else/To do to keep me here”
8 – “There’s Nothing Left Here for You”
The eighth song off of the album, “There’s Nothing Left Here for You,” gives off the same theme as most of the songs on Laurel Hell. It feels like Mitski is trying to either convey she has no more love to give, whether it’s towards a person or her as an artist. It’s one of the more sad sounding songs on the album and I can really feel the buildup of emotions Mitsk tries to convey.
Lyrics: You could touch fire, you could fly/It was your right, it was your life/And then it passed to someone new”
7 – “Working for the Knife”
“Working for the Knife” is the lead single on the studio album. In this song, Mitski talks about going through the motions of life under a metaphorical “knife” that acts as a force against her, which, in my opinion, can be shown throughout the song as the need to appeal to her audience, her struggles with mental health, and aging. I love how much there is to unpack in this song.
Lyrics: “I always knew the world moves on/I just didn’t know it would go without me”
6 – “Heat Lightning”
Her third single off Laurel Hell, “Heat Lightning,” is assumed to be about feelings of insomnia and anxiety. This song gives off the feeling of just letting emotions go and giving up on trying to stop them until they can regain the strength to try again. Towards the middle of the song, there’s this buildup as if Mitski is trying to release the emotions inside of her. But instead of the song reaching a climax, it goes right back into a piano melody. The little musical hints throughout the song makes “Heat Lightning” one of my favorite songs on the album melody-wise.
Lyrics: “There’s nothing I can do/Not much I can change/I give it up to you, I surrender”
5 – “I Guess”
The saddest song off the album in my opinion, “I Guess” can also be about her reflection of either a relationship or her music career. In the song, Mitski is grateful for its ending because it has given her time to learn more about herself. There’s something about the instrumental that gives this song a feeling of emptiness and dread that I just can’t explain.
Lyrics: “If I could keep/Anything of you/I would keep/Just this quiet after you”
4 – “That’s Our Lamp”
The album’s closer, “That’s Our Lamp,” sounds like a goodbye similar to “I Guess,” but instead of it sounding melancholic, the instrumental feels bright and optimistic. In this song, Mitski is looking back on the times where her lover both liked and loved her, along with expressing the sadness of leaving something you’ve known for so long. I thought this song was an excellent and upbeat ending to the album, compared to how sad the lyrics can be.
Lyrics: That’s our lamp/It shines like a big moon/We may be ending/I’m standing in the dark”
3 – “The Only Heartbreaker”
The sixth song on the album, “The Only Heartbreaker,” is about someone always said to be messing up their relationship and someone that always gets the blame, but there’s something sadder beneath the surface. The reason they’re always the one making mistakes is because they’re the only one trying to keep the relationship together. The buildup to the instrumental at the end of the song makes it one of my favorites.
Lyrics: “If you would just make one mistake/What a relief that would be”
2 – “Stay Soft”
The final single released before the release of the album, “Stay Soft,” is about people emotionally hurt finding each other and coping with their problems together physically. The chorus of the song is about Mitski pushing herself to harden her emotions. A majority of artists now try to create this 80s vibe to their songs and it doesn’t sound original, but the use of keys in this song creates a unique sound, earning it a high rank on this list.
Lyrics: “I am face down on my bed/Still not quite awake yet/Thinking of you”
1 – “Should’ve Been Me”
My favorite song off of Laurel Hell would have to be “Should’ve Been Me.” This song is about the isolation Mitski felt as a consequence of miscommunication with her partners. Along with this, she apologizes throughout the song for being emotionally unavailable to her partner. The vocals on this track add to the synths, keys, and overall emotion Mitski is trying to convey. The song sort of gives me an ABBA vibe and puts me in a good mood every time I listen.
Lyrics: “I haven’t given you what you need/You wanted me but couldn’t reach me/I’m sorry it should’ve been me”