The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

Givens: Laufey’s Bewitched re-envisions jazz through spellbinding lyricism

Laufey sits with her piano and guitar for her performance on Live at WFUV in 2022. Laufey’s new album Bewitched, released on Sept. 8, elegantly combines jazz elements to appeal to a new generation. (Photo by Gus Philippas, licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Known for magically pervading her music with soothing jazz vocals and swooning orchestral arrangements, Laufey’s music possesses the tenderness of a lullaby; her sophomore album, Bewitched, released on Sept. 8, is no different.

In the latest product of her cutting-edge musicality, the Icelandic-Chinese artist details a soul-stirring story of love’s intricacies in the turbulent waters of the 21st century while simultaneously enchanting listeners with a dreamy and timeless blend of jazz and classical music.

Prior to Bewitched, Laufey exponentially rose in popularity. Following the release of her debut single, “Street by Street,” in 2020, Laufey captured the attention of prominent artists in the industry, including Billie Eilish and V from BTS. Afterward, Laufey began to gain a following on various social media platforms and released her first studio album, Everything I Know About Love, in 2022. After Laufey released Bewitched’s lead single “From The Start,” on May 11, the song went viral on TikTok and gave her one of her most noteworthy career upturns yet. 

With Laufey’s recent meteoric rise, the subsequent release of Bewitched shattered the record for the biggest debut of a jazz album in Spotify history. This milestone and her ascent to musical stardom is a testament to her rejuvenating artistry but also to the resurgence of jazz-classical music.

In an interview with Clash magazine, Laufey said she appreciates TikTok because it is a platform reintroducing younger audiences to non-mainstream styles of music.

“My whole goal as a musician is to take classical and jazz music – these kinds of antiquated styles of music that young people don’t know as well – and make them relevant and cool again,” Laufey said. 

The first track, “Dreamer,” begins with a vintage acapella style synonymous with the doo-wop genre of the 1950s, holding strong parallels with songs including “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes and “Earth Angel” by The Penguins. The ballad establishes a fine line between Laufey’s wonder for love and her dreams. In the lyrics “No boy’s going to kill the dreamer in me,” she illustrates how love’s wounds cannot extinguish her unwavering aspirations.

The theme of unreciprocated love is prominent throughout Bewitched as Laufey depicts her narrative with subtle hints of an anonymous past lover. The track “Second Best” elicits this motif by transitioning from a single guitar to an ardent burst of instrumentation and ascending backing vocals, underlining the wistfulness of someone being your “everything” while you are solely their “second best.” The album’s third track, “Haunted,” delves deeper into this somber tone in the lines, “I hold on to every ounce of sin / I know he don’t love me quite like I love him.” 

In “Lovesick,” Laufey trades the more tender sounds of the album for grandeur and a vibrant emotional release in the chorus. The song climaxes the whirlwind of emotions the narrator experiences for the person she has fallen in love with. When she sings, “When the gold rays fell on your skin / And my hair got caught in the wind / The choir sang a melancholic hymn,” Laufey clings to the memory of a former lover and evokes her intense pining for their presence. 

The next track, “California and Me,” highlights Laufey’s ability to construct a fairytale through her perception of classical music as a multi-hyphenate. The track’s collaboration with the renowned Philharmonia Orchestra evokes a Disney-esque sound mixed with a powerful display of emotion and imagery, transporting listeners into the audience of a live performance. Singing “The mountains of LA will weep through the night,” Laufey employs California and its environment to reflect her sentiments, showing they are a part of her and the mystery person’s absence will not solely affect her.

In “Promise,” Laufey paints the difficulty of readjusting from the heartache of an unavoidable breakup with a steady pacing of her serene vocals. This anguish unfolds in the couplet “It hurts to be something / It’s worse to be nothing with you.”

With the penultimate track, “Letter To My 13-Year-Old Self,” Laufey departs from the melancholy love story of the album to a heartfelt ode for her past self. “Another girl’s had her first kiss / Please don’t think too much of it, darling,” she vocalizes as a reminder the frequent feeling of needing to rush into relationships is only trivial. The lines also allude to her song “Falling Behind” from her first studio album, which details the crushing feeling of how everybody is falling in love except her. Despite the “clothes that don’t quite fit you anywhere” and others who “try to say your foreign name and laugh,” Laufey tells her younger self she’ll persevere because life is prettier than it appears. Her words are imbued with the embrace of self-love along with the bittersweet nostalgia of wishing to rewind time to offer reassurance to yourself. 

Bringing this album’s riveting journey to a close is “Bewitched,” an ebullient sound tied together with delicate orchestration, encapsulating the Disney princess flair present in “California and Me.” The title track wondrously captures the enthralling yet overwhelming nature of love with the lines “You bewitched me / From the first time that you kissed me.” The dual meaning of “Bewitched” cleverly portrays how love is so intrinsically potent, where being utterly enamored by someone is akin to casting a spell on the heart.

Bewitched is an introspective exploration of the complexities of love, interspersed with Laufey’s mesmerizing fusion of traditional jazz and neoclassical elements. The album weaves a spellbinding love letter from Laufey to herself and all hopeless romantics and dreamers. From the start, Laufey’s spell remains unbroken, bewitching all who listen.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Givens, Staff Writer
Isabella Givens is a junior from Boyle. She is an avid power napper who enjoys reading while listening to her unorganized Spotify playlist of Laufey, Red Velvet and the Strokes. While at MSMS, she hopes to nurture her love for math and cross off all the films on her and her roommate's movies-to-watch list.

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  • M

    MaeOct 2, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    Excellent !

  • L

    LindseyOct 2, 2023 at 11:19 am

    that’s my sister • 3 •

    • A

      AdairOct 2, 2023 at 4:40 pm

      that’s my roommate ??

  • E

    Ean ChoiOct 2, 2023 at 11:14 am

    Live, Love, Laufey! I love this!