Yesterday something interesting happened. Early in the day Mitski posted some teaser on social media indicating that a new issue would be out in 24 hours or so. Then Facebook and Instagram (and a number of related apps) all went down for several hours. I’m not saying these events are related — or whether Adele’s ostensibly imminent return to the musical front contributed — but there’s certainly something to be said about Mitski’s growth as an artist and a global superstar, and how the advent of new music of her signals a huge moment.
Her power is on full display on “Working for the Knife,” the self-penetrating new song she released today (October 5). It’s not a barnburner or a dance-ready bop. Basically it’s mid-tempo and confessional, although one of the best hooks in the whole song is the fuzzy guitar plucked down on the chorus. This is Mitski we’re talking about.
In ‘Working for the Knife’ she discusses her own enduring power over rainy keyboards and seems to nod to her own legacy as a songwriter and artist in the public eye. “I used to think I’d be ready by 8 p.m. Now that I’m 29, the road still looks the same,” she sings determinedly. “Although at 30 I may see a way to change / That I live for the knife.”
The song was written by Mitski and recorded with help from her trusted collaborator Patrick Hyland, who also collaborated on 2014’s Bury me at Makeout Creek, 2016 puberty 2, and 2018’s Be the cowboy. When she sings, “I always knew the world would go on / I just didn’t know it would go on without me,” that’s very real, end-of-the-twenties kind of shit. I feel it deeply!
“Working for the Knife” comes with a Zia Anger-directed visual in which Mitski is once again the cowboy in a proper cowboy hat, though he quickly loses it (and a long coat) for a blue, wide-sleeved performance outfit. The next few minutes are essentially Mitski’s one-woman show, and she makes the most of it by crawling through an auditorium of Albany’s The Egg, undressing and collapsing on stage, then seemingly doing her shit. lose in the relentless gaze of the spotlight.
Along with “Working for the Knife” comes news of a 2022 tour that will see Mitski reach both North America and Europe. It’s a nice continuation of the live show foundation she’s laid over the past decade, including opening for Lorde in 2017 and 2018 at the Melodrama world tour – which brought Mitski legions of new fans. They also mark Mitski’s first concerts since September 2019, and you can find all the tour info here.
Watch, listen and experience “Working for the Knife” above.