Laurel Hell [Limited Opaque Red]
Mitski’s sixth album is an austere, nuanced, and disaffected indie-pop record that, in part, addresses her turbulent relationship with her own career.
The songs on Laurel Hell are wispy, less image-dense than before; the longest line in “I Guess,” for example, is six words, like it was written on the back of a napkin. One blazing counterpoint is “Heat Lightning,” a languid ballad about insomnia that sounds like the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs.” “Sleeping eyelid of the sky/Flutters in a dream,” Mitski sings, a spectacular and vivid portrait of 4 a.m. consciousness. Gazing out the window at a liminal hour, she anticipates an oncoming storm, observing trees “swaying in the wind, like sea anemones.” The sweltering air dissipates and the song catches a drift. Hours of restless contemplation lead Mitski to the realization that she must abandon her chosen path, and she sings tenderly, almost religiously: “I surrender.”