Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Laufey polishes her classic jazz-pop sound on Bewitched


Release date: 08 September 2023
Laufey Bewitched cover
05 September 2023, 09:00 Written by Matthew Kim

Gen Z has always been nostalgic for eras they never lived through.

Perhaps that’s why Laufey – a classically-trained jazz pop vocalist born at the turn of the millennium – connects so deeply: her music is an escape for a world in need of escapism.

Like many young artists, she released her first song in the early days of quarantine, when we collectively realized that things were going to get bad. But, unlike most of her contemporaries, Laufey marries smooth, melodic traditional pop with lyrics about love and self-discovery; her music retains the timeless beauty of Studio Ghibli films and Ella Fitzgerald-era jazz. Bewitched is her second album, coming just a year after her breakout album Everything I Know About Love – and, despite the quick turnover, Laufey improves on her already effective formula in just about every department.

Even as Laufey has grown as a songwriter, one thing has stayed consistent – her constant infatuation with love. She still spends her second album ruminating on relationships, but she explores a more diverse set of stories compared to her persistently romantic debut – from the joy of a passionate honeymoon period to the untimely end of a failed romance. For example, lead single “Promise” sees Laufey progressively giving into temptation, ultimately reaching out to an ex that she should probably just cut off; album opener “Dreamer” reveals the side of Laufey that’s introverted and jaded by too many “lifeless little chats”. But the entire album isn't about boys (or a lack thereof) – on “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self,” Laufey delivers, well, an encouraging letter of support to her discouraged middle-school self. “I'm so sorry that they pick you last / Try to say your foreign name and laugh,” she commiserates, but promises that “you'll grow up and grow so tough and charm them”. Even on an album of heart-rending, touching songs, this might be the most heart-rending and touching of them all.

Laufey also chooses not to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the antique jazz-pop sound that she’s already mastered. But she certainly diversifies her palette – especially compared to the sameness of her debut album, where individual songs blended together on the album as a whole. The chorus of “Lovesick” swells with an orchestral vastness and grandeur uncommon for Laufey’s often-subdued style. The Philharmonia Orchestra’s contributions to “California And Me” add a Disney-esque classical flair to Laufey’s lyrics about a boy who leaves Los Angeles, along with his romance with Laufey; the following interlude “Nocturne” is a spellbinding composition for solo piano that’s as emotional as even the best Laufey vocal performances.

Parts of the album still feel monotonous. “Misty” and “Serendipity” are essentially immaculate, but by the tail end of the album, the extra helpings of piano-backed, lightly orchestrated love songs begin to feel unnecessary – even though they’re wonderful tracks on their own.

Maybe it’s because Laufey doesn’t fix what wasn’t already broken – her traditional, classical and jazz-influenced style is just as effective as when she started. But, on Bewitched, she refines and perfects that style. The songwriting is stronger, the hooks more memorable, the instrumentation and pacing more thought-out. Laufey didn’t need to fix anything, but Bewitched is a marked step up in every way. And, because of it, she’s more than the promising young star she was in her early career – she has shown herself to be an established talent.

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