New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: Laufey’s latest album ‘Bewitched’ is an ode to the dreamers

The Icelandic-Chinese artist introduced young audiences to classical jazz with her new album.
Icelandic-Chinese artist Laufey’s new album “Bewitched” guides the listener through a melodic journey of self-discovery, heartbreak and love. (Courtesy of Erlendur Sveinsson)

Laufey, the rising 24-year-old jazz star, invites young people to escape into a dreamlike, misty world in her sophomore album “Bewitched,” released Friday, Sept. 8. 

This album was a continuation of the Icelandic-Chinese artist’s debut, “Everything I Know About Love,” which was released in August 2022. Laufey kicked off her career through her TikTok fanbase, garnering millions of views through the platform. “Bewitched” demonstrates a shift away from her debut sound, as she incorporates more classical and jazz elements to accompany a new, more melancholic narrative. 

“The first album was very light, innocent, hyper-romantic,” Laufey said in an interview with ELLE Magazine. “And then the second era, if you will, is more mature. It’s sexier. I’ve definitely grown a lot as a songwriter. I’ve also matured a lot as a woman. So the experiences and the lyrics reflect that. I’m composing for the first time in it. And, I’m leaning more into my jazz and classical roots — leaning more into the things that make me, me.” 

“Bewitched” guides the listener through a melodic journey of self-discovery, heartbreak and love. In her album, Laufey encapsulates the magic of falling for someone, creating an enchanting theme throughout her album. Through the title track “Bewitched” and “Must Be Love” she compares love to a spell, something ethereal that makes you lose all control. 

After listening to the first track, “Dreamer,” it might seem like this album has taken a turn away from Laufey’s debut. This song is about valuing yourself; even if she gets her heart broken, nobody will take away her ability to dream. The majority of her songs are about being in love, about falling so hard for someone you feel bewitched. 

The album narrates a story of unrequited love, though Laufey never reveals who she is writing about. Most of the songs, however, reveal small details about who this mystery love might be, describing encounters in Central Park West or drives down Sunset Boulevard. This person’s indifference toward Laufey is clear in “Second Best,” where she sings “I loved you so much / That I settled for less / Oh, you were my everything / I was your second best.” This theme of unreciprocated love combined with the romantic blues sets a melancholic tune for the entirety of the album. 

Despite her heartache, she still includes happy moments she had with this person. The fourth track, “Must Be Love,” talks about the consuming part of being in love, especially in the early stages. It’s about how you can feel like a “sappy stupid something” but still want to jump headfirst into the fall, even if it means you can’t think straight. With lines like “I’m awake inside a dream” or “lost in your wonderland, I hope I’m never found,” she continues the theme of dreams and magic, which is enhanced by her background vocals harmonizing to each line. 

The album is the perfect addition to the coming cold, rainy nights you’ll spend curled up in your bed. The melodies transport the listener into a previous time and space. Her deep voice flows through the album like water, intertwining effortlessly with her background vocals and instruments. This does, however, make the songs blend together somewhat, with them all having similar tunes. This continuous sound is interrupted in the 10th track, “From The Start,” the only upbeat song on the album.  

She cuts through her lyrics with wit and charm, something “From The Start,” captures very neatly. She sings, “Listening to you harp on ’bout some new soulmate / ‘She’s so perfect,’ blah, blah blah.” The rhythm of the song also makes it stand out from the rest, with an upbeat jazzy sound that makes you want to move. 

The track “Lovesick” also breaks away from the constant sound of the album. The song builds up to a scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs chorus as she describes her goodbye with the person she’s fallen in love with. Here, she is clinging to their memory, to the last time they saw each other “When the gold rays fell on your skin / And my hair got caught in the wind / The choir sang a melancholic hymn.”

The eighth track, titled “Nocturne (Interlude),” is performed and composed by Laufey herself. Without using words, she seamlessly captures the dreamy essence of the album, integrating the elements and sounds from all of the songs. With it, she also completes the integration of jazz and classical music, one of her main signatures as a young jazz artist. 

The album is a testament to Laufey’s ability to love, hope and dream. In track 13, “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self,” she praises this ability by reassuring her teenage self that everything will be okay, that even though “they pick you last” or “try to say your foreign name and laugh,” all the dreams she’d thought impossible will one day become reality. She tells herself to continue dreaming because someday she will grow up, fall in love and walk onto a stage with the crowd screaming her name.  

In the entirety of the album, she never truly describes her love interest, rather she describes her feelings for them and how she felt in the aftermath of their relationship. She shows that even though she loved this person, even if she gave them more than she received, she is not ashamed of her feelings — she embraces it. 

“Bewitched” might present itself as a breakup album filled with sad songs, but it is much more complex than that. This album is a love letter from the artist to herself, and all of the dreamers who might be feeling hopeless.

Contact Diana C. Sánchez González at [email protected].

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  • P

    PeggySep 21, 2023 at 7:02 pm

    Great article thanks for sharing!

  • D

    Daniel portelaSep 21, 2023 at 10:04 am

    Diana first article, so proud!!!

  • S

    samanthaSep 21, 2023 at 9:09 am