Mitski

Mitski

Heat Lightning

Laurel Hell

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Released February 4 2022

In 2019—following the release of her star-making fifth album, Be the Cowboy—Mitski announced she was taking a break. She might not always feel jazzed to be back on Laurel Hell (“I used to think I’d be done by 20,” she sings on “Working for the Knife”), but she’s also not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Her sixth album suggests, too, that there might be some fun to be had in the process. Taking “Nobody”—the Be the Cowboy track that saw Mitski explore crushing loneliness against upbeat disco—as her cue, she embraces polished ’80s pop to shine a light in the darkness. See the euphoric, New Wave-inspired “The Only Heartbreaker,” “Love Me More”—on which she cries out for affection against racing synths—and the shoulder-shaking “Stay Soft.” (This being a Mitski album, there are still moments of insular intensity, from “Everyone” to “Heat Lightning.”) Laurel Hell often explores endings—of relationships, maybe of her career—and by its finish, Mitski still isn’t promising to stick around. “I guess this is the end/I’ll have to learn to be somebody else,” she says on “I Guess,” before simply fading away on the final track, “That’s Our Lamp.”