Mitski Hardens Her Heart on ‘Stay Soft’

And more new music this week, with tracks from Röyksopp and Queen Naija.


Yes, no hesitation: Mitski, “Stay Soft” Perhaps to the disappointment of the sad sad Twitter girlies, Mitski is back with a new single from her album Laurel Hill, and she’s not quite as straightforward-sad as you remember her. It’s different now: The 31-year-old is interrogating her vulnerability to the tune of something darker and more anguished. In “Stay Soft,” the songwriter has all the familiar trappings of her own inventive Mitski-ness (piano, guitar, and electronic disco), but she’s, at times, more commanding. “You need to go/To where the dark remembers you,” she orders, and “Open up your heart/Like the gates of hell.” As someone who only started listening to Mitski earlier this year, this album has proven a good entry point to further explore her full discography, without latching onto the disappointment some fans feel over the artist (allegedly) not reaching her full musical prodigy potential on this one. Mitski, who has seemingly hardened herself, doesn’t expect her fans, or her lovers for that matter, to stay soft; she wants us to relish in the feeling of having lost our squishiness, acknowledging a brand new us and a brand new her. —Emily Leibert

Call it a comeback: Röyksopp featuring Alison Goldfrapp, “Impossible” – If you’re going to renege on your goodbye, you need to make “hello again” count. Norwegian duo Röyksopp seem keenly aware of this with their hypnotic new single “Impossible.” Back in 2014, the group claimed that year’s The Inevitable End would be their last album. Wouldn’t you know it, they announced a new one this week, though they’re not calling Profound Mysteries an album but a “conceptual project.” I mean, it has 10 songs on it, it’s out in April—sounds like an album to me. Whatever you want to call it, the latest “installment” from it is a lovely balancing act of ambient keyboards and a propulsive beat. It grinds underneath the heavenly sounds of Goldfrapp singer Alison Goldfrapp. This song makes it easy to forgive their lie of goodbye. —Rich Juzwiak

Y: Queen Naija and Big Sean, “Hate Our Love” One of the most entertaining things about new love is the rampant narcissism it inspires and our collective agreement to indulge it in others, knowing if we’re lucky, we’ll be just as ridiculous at one time or another. On her ode to that “us-against-the-world”-style passion, American Idol alum Queen Naija paired off with Big Sean to create a classic-sounding R&B ballad. Building around a snippet from the oft-sampled “Sounds Like a Love Song,” Naija raises a finger to her haters and reminisces about the joys of “sitting here laughing at all these fucking dummies,” which really is one of the more underrated parts of romance. —Gabrielle Bruney

Y: El DeBarge, “Time Will Reveal (from NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert)” – It is utterly astounding to me that El DeBarge’s falsetto—once a staple of R&B radio—has held up so well for nearly 40 years. The just-released Tiny Desk Concert he did is a marvel of a throwback. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and his own pillowy keys, DeBarge runs through a handful of vintage tracks that he performed with his family DeBarge. Lovely! (If you want a true horror story on what fame can do to young people, check out the group’s Unsung.) —RJ

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin