Something interesting happened yesterday. Early in the day, Mitski posted some teasers on social media hinting that a new song would be dropping in 24 hours or so. Then, Facebook and Instagram (and a bunch of related apps) all went down for several hours. I’m not saying these events are related — or that Adele’s seemingly imminent return to the musical fore contributed — but there’s certainly something to be said about Mitski’s growth as both an artist and a global superstar, and how the arrival of new music from her signals a huge moment.
Her power is on full display on “Working for the Knife,” the self-probing new track she released today (October 5). It’s not a barnburner or a dance-ready bop. In fact, it’s mid-tempo and confessional, though one of the best hooks throughout the song is the down-strummed fuzzy guitar on the chorus. This is Mitski we’re talking about.
“Working for the Knife” finds her discussing her own staying power over rainy keyboards and seems to nod to her own legacy as a songwriter and performer in the public eye. “I used to think I’d be done by 20 / Now at 29, the road ahead appears the same,” she sings with resolve. “Though maybe at 30 I’ll see a way to change / That I’m living for the knife.”
The song was written by Mitski and recorded with help from her trusted collaborator Patrick Hyland, who also worked on 2014’s Bury Me at Makeout Creek, 2016’s Puberty 2, and 2018’s Be the Cowboy. When she sings, “I always knew the world moves on / I just didn’t know it would go on without me,” that’s extremely real, end-of-your-twenties kind of shit. I feel it deeply!
“Working for the Knife” arrives with a Zia Anger-directed visual that finds Mitski once again being the cowboy in an actual cowboy hat, though quickly losing it (and a long coat) for a baggy-sleeved blue performance outfit. The next few minutes are essentially Mitski’s one-woman show, and she makes the most of them by crawling through an auditorium at Albany’s The Egg, stripping down and collapsing onstage, then seemingly losing her shit in the unforgiving gaze of the spotlight.
Along with “Working for the Knife” comes news of a 2022 tour that’ll find Mitski hitting both North America and Europe. It’s a nice continuation of the live-show groundwork she’s laid for the past decade, including most notably opening for Lorde in 2017 and 2018 on 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 right here.
Watch, listen, and experience “Working for the Knife” above.