"Laurel Hell" probably isn't the album you put on before a night out, and it's not the album you sing along with while smiling. It's the album you put on to feel — to feel the effects of burnout, of longing and of agony.
But watching indie singer-songwriter Mitski bring her 2022 album "Laurel Hell" to life made me sing — and scream — with emotion.
The "Laurel Hell" tour stopped in Phoenix on Monday for a sold-out concert at The Van Buren. As a dedicated, long-time Mitski listener, I was lucky enough to snag tickets to attend.
Following a nearly two-year hiatus, the Japanese-American reemerged with a moody recount of her relationship with music following her previous album and sequential tour, "Be the Cowboy" in 2018.
"Laurel Hell," a 32-minute and 31-second album, consists of 11 beautifully crafted tracks, curated to bring back the familiar indie-rock genre she’s revitalized through lyrical masterpieces, synth-pop beats and guitar riffs.
Those elements, blended with her unique stage presence, made for one dramatic performance.
Kicking off with electric-rock Japanese band Chai, the audience got an energetic shock before diving headfirst into an emotional rollercoaster.
Mitski then took the stage with "Love Me More," the seventh track on the "Laurel Hell" album. She describes feelings of turmoil and exhaustion piled on after a long time, singing about needing love in order to drown out the uneasy feelings of being unclean and unwanted. To clean herself of feeling undesired, she scrubs her arms interpretively.
The performance was complete with the singer acting out an interpretive dance that shows herself scrubbing her body clean.
Mitski, who wore a dainty pastel purple dress, then welcomed the audience to her show right before she ripped off her socks and shoes.
"Time to get back into character," she said before the music picked back up.
If I needed further proof that God is a woman and her name is Mitski Miyawaki, hearing my all-time favorite song, "First Love / Late Spring," live was probably the last nail in the coffin. Lay me down to rest and etch my marble headstone with the words "mune ga hachikire-sōde (胸がはち切れそうで)."
Mitski's set list sprinkled a little bit of everything for everyone.
There was a handful of "Laurel Hell" songs including "Working for the Knife," "Heat Lightning," "Stay Soft," "The Only Heartbreaker" and my personal favorite from the album, "Should’ve Been Me."
The artist even provided fan service by including the underrated track "Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart" from her 2013 album, "Retired from Sad, New Career in Business."
Mitski ended the concert with a slow encore from "Be The Cowboy," completing the 23-song setlist. As "Two Slow Dancers" closed out the night in an epic ballad, the audience was heard singing along to conclude the theatrical, emotionally overwhelming performance.
Mitski’s "Laurel Hell" album and sequential concert was an experience that will be difficult to forget, especially since my throat is still sore from all the screaming and crying I did, even three days after that night.
While I was not the last one out of the venue, a part of me still holds on to her mesmerizing performance that solidified my respect for the indie musician who not only breaks barriers in the genre-mashing world, but also manages to captivate and control her work by fleshing out a performance that mirrors the emotion in her lyrics and her voice.
Analisa has been a State Press reporter since her freshman year at ASU. She's a journalism major that has written pieces for several desks including Community & Culture, Opinion, and now Echo. Lisa is not involved in any professional program because she'd prefer to keep her sanity intact by the time graduation rolls around.