The gradual ascent of Mitski back to the top of the indie-rock universe is currently underway. So far in 2021, we’ve gotten the first two pieces of new music since 2018’s Be the Cowboy solidified her place as one of modern music’s most exciting and electric artists. Those songs, ‘The Only Heartbreaker’ and ‘Working for the Knife’, are currently battling it out for “Best Song of the Year” titles.
Today, we get one final addition that lets the singer cap the year off in style: the slow-burning and emotionally dense ‘Heat Lightning’.
Complete with a backing rhythm that recalls Maureen Tucker’s sparse drumming on The Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus in Furs’, ‘Heat Lightning’ swells with strings and ever-increasing dynamics before dropping out with occasional piano lines and dry vocal sections. Themes of letting go and changing power dynamics flesh out the track, with the song’s chorus laying it all bare: “There’s nothing I can do / Not much I can change / Can I give it up to you / Would that be okay?”
According to the artist herself, the songs on Laurel Hell don’t deal with traditional power in relationships but, instead, focus on the less black and white aspects of the interplay between two people. “I needed love songs about real relationships that are not power struggles to be won or lost. I needed songs that could help me forgive both others and myself. I make mistakes all the time. I don’t want to put on a front where I’m a role model, but I’m also not a bad person. I needed to create this space mostly for myself where I sat in that grey area.”
Mitski hasn’t fully made her return just yet: that will come when Laurel Hell will be released in early 2022. But with three great singles already previewing it, the album is sure to be a hell of a way to announce Mitski’s return with authority.
Check out the official lyric video for ‘Heat Lightning’ down below. Laurel Hell is set for a February 4 release date.