Listen to this: Mitski ends her hiatus with new song ‘Working for the Knife’

Read about this week’s most notable singles by Gracie Abrams, Kali Uchis and more.

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Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Check out these new tracks you may have missed from this week. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

It seems Twitter is ablaze with Mitski memes since both the release of her latest single and the announcement of her 2022 tour. Therefore, it’s only natural that we would review the track. If you’re tired of English-speaking music, this week we also review songs in Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Read on for more. 

“Working for the Knife” by Mitski

Tristán Queriot Rodríguez Vélez, Contributing Writer

A little over three years after the release of  “Be the Cowboy,” Mitski returns with the song, “Working for the Knife.” This release ends her hiatus and affirms her place as a powerhouse of versatility and emotion in the indie rock world. In “Working for the Knife,” Mitski couples industrial, synth-heavy production with lyrics that grieve the reality of laboring under oppressive and inescapable systems. These systems have no regard for the little people,  hence the title “Working for the Knife.” Mitski also mourns the blissful childhood dreams that preceded this reality — dreams of growing up and doing something you love. “I used to think I’d be done by twenty/Now at twenty-nine, the road appears the same/Though maybe at thirty I’ll see a way to change/That I’m living for the knife,” she sings with a twinge of regret. Alongside a music video and 2022 tour announcement, “Working for the Knife” confirms Mitski and her emotional balladry are back.

“Spit of You” by Sam Fender 

Ethan Beck, Contributing Writer

“I can talk to anyone, I can’t talk to you,” sings Sam Fender in the chorus of “Spit of You,” the final single before his sophomore album “Seventeen Going Under” drops. Over a whirling, midwest-emo-inspired guitar lick and steadfast drumming, Fender details the process of realizing he’s becoming his father. The song starts off muted and slow, but touches of double-tracked vocals and glockenspiel pick up the momentum. By the time the saxophones, mandolins and synths hit, the song starts sounding like an understated version of “Tunnel of Love”-era Bruce Springsteen. The crux of Fender’s newest single becomes obvious in the last chorus. It’s a triumphant but melancholic ending for “Spit of You,” one where the audience can most clearly see the emotional stakes behind what Fender described as a “declaration of love” for his father. 

“fue mejor” by Kali Uchis featuring SZA

Isabella Armus, Deputy Arts Editor

Nearly a year after the release of her second full-length album “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios),” Colombian-American pop singer Kali Uchis returns with a sultry remix of standout track “fue mejor,” — and I couldn’t be more grateful.  The cut retains many of its original elements such as the soothing hi-hats and gentle reverb that envelops Uchis’ signature cooing. Uchis’ vocals are layered throughout the mix, ranging from operatic highs to seductives low notes. Her vocals are a dynamic instrumentation all on their own. The R&B track reaches its peak when the acclaimed and often enigmatic artist SZA joins in on one of the verses. Singing for the first time in Spanish, SZA embodies an  impassioned affection that matches perfectly with Uchis’ moody melancholy. She sings lines such as “Tú nunca fuiste mío/tú nunca fuiste mierda/Desde la primera vez que me probaste,” reflecting the track’s flippant energy towards lost love. This alluring collaboration proves the sonic chemistry between the two musical powerhouses, giving “fue mejor” the potential to become a slow burning classic within both Kali Uchis’s and SZA’s already impressive discographies. 

“Feels Like” by Gracie Abrams 

Candace Patrick, Staff Writer

In her newest single, “Feels Like,” Gracie Abrams sings about the soft exhilaration of falling in love. Her saccharine ballad is a shift from her typical subject matter of heartbreak and despair, detailing the intoxicating and all-consuming feeling of love. A simple piano melody trickles in, leading listeners to the melodic pull of her vocal line throughout the chorus where she sings, “I would do whatever you wanted/We don’t have to leave the apartment/Met you at the right time/This is what it feels like.” An uptempo hand-clap beat keeps the otherwise subdued song moving, while Abrams’ whispery, Billie Eilish-like tone, guides listeners through themes of devotion and romantic adoration. Abrams takes more of a risk on the bridge and showcases her vulnerability when she belts, “And I need you sometimes/We’ll be all right.” Anyone familiar with Gracie Abrams knows that “Feels Like” blends seamlessly into her repertoire of bedroom-indie pop. The track demonstrates her knack for creating music that makes you feel like the main character.

“ラブ (Love)” by indigo la End featuring pH-1

Annie Williams, Contributing Writer 

indigo la End, a Japanese band fronted by multi-project musician Enon Kawatani, teamed up with Korean-American rapper pH-1 just under a week ago to release the song “Love.” Though the band’s music is typically rock-oriented, this song is an ambitious fusion between three different genres, resulting in an indie-rock-jazz-rap explosion. The track itself is explosive. Jagged starts and stops and jazz-like dissonance populate the majority of the song, supported by swinging guitars and quick, glossy drumming. The song drives forward at a frenetic pace as it explores heartache from an unresolved relationship. “I don’t want your sweet lies,” pH-1, also known as Harry Park, intones, “ I just want to hear your honest feelings even if it hurts.” Park, who operates under the South Korean Jay Park-founded label H1GHR MUSIC, delivers his verses in a blend of Korean, English and Japanese, seamlessly switching from one language to the next. The intermingling between Kawatani’s higher, slightly more nasally vocal tone and Park’s smooth rapping works surprisingly well. The music video features Park and the band’s members stuck in individual clear glass boxes, each with a different pattern framing them. It is interspersed with flashing lights of every color, all of which contribute to the song’s dynamic tone. “Love” conveys the artists’ anguish in the most energetic, groovable manner possible, acknowledging sorrow while also getting you moving. 

“Write a List of Things To Look Forward To” by Courtney Barnett

Sabiq Shahidullah, Staff Writer

Courtney Barnett comes back with another single, “Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To,” off of her upcoming album, “Things Take Time, Take Time.” With this song, the Australian indie rockstar follows the release of two other singles, “Before You Gotta Go” and “Rae Street.” The new track’s straightforward title explores Barnett’s attempts toward overcoming a depressive slump. The song idea was conceived when Barnett’s friends suggested she write out positive things in her life to brighten her outlook. “Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To” shows Barnett’s classic deadpan delivery, upbeat guitar playing and sardonic songwriting. Her lyrics usually have a wandering verbosity, but in this new song, Barnett takes a sparser approach. “We’ll never learn we don’t deserve nice things/And we’ll scream/Self-righteously/We did our best, but what does that really mean?” Barnett reflects as she learns to appreciate love and companionship through all the hopelessness. The song is accompanied by a music video that depicts a melancholic Barnett receiving thoughtful gifts from an unknown penpal. Barnett is slated to release her new album on Nov. 12. 

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