Japanese American indie rock musician Mitski released her sixth studio album, “Laurel Hell,” on Friday.
Mitski took a hiatus from music after her 2019 tour concluded, returning to music in October 2021 with the single “Working for the Knife.” That single, along with 10 other tracks, comprises the new album. She has also released music videos for four of the songs, the most recent of which dropped Friday for “Stay Soft.”
The album has received a mostly positive response, with many reviewers citing a self-reflective turn inward in which Mitski questions her own career as a musician. After ambiguously announcing she would be stepping back from music in 2019, some fans believed she was finished for good.
Mitski has a Japanese mother and white American father and spent her childhood in various countries because of her father’s work. Her mixed heritage presents itself as a theme in her work, but she is perhaps better known for existential lyrics about heartbreak and sorrow and songs that question capitalism and modern systems in society.
During conversations about “Laurel Hell,” she discussed what it meant to her to be an Asian American woman, although she said she doesn’t particularly believe the label fits her. She told the Guardian that being an Asian woman and a public figure has opened her up to particular scrutiny, saying, “Asian women are more objectified, fetishized and expected to be submissive.”