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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | Laufey’s ‘Bewitched’ tells a beautiful story of love, heartbreak, and life lessons

In her second studio album, released on Sept. 8, Laufey utilizes complex artistry to form a cohesive story through fourteen unique tracks.
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“Bewitched,” the second studio album of Icelandic-Chinese singer Laufey, released on Sept. 8 blends varying tones, orchestral arrangements, and her signature jazz/bedroom pop fusion to create a beautiful story of love, heartbreak, and life lessons.

I view this album in the same way one might view a work of theatre: a seven-song first act setting the scene, a brief intermission allowing us to collect our thoughts, and a six-song closing act to bring everything into consonance with only a few songs particularly important to the story.

Laufey’s jazz isn’t a reflection of traditional jazz vocals. She creates her own sound that can (and will) revitalize the genre, as it combines elements of music both modern and past.

Laufey’s career saw an upturn in 2021 after she went viral on TikTok and Instagram. Her first official release came soon after with her first studio album, “Everything I Know About Love,” released in summer 2022.

Excuse my horrible pun, but this album truly did bewitch me. As someone largely unfamiliar with Laufey, I had no idea what to expect. However, I felt myself hooked within 30 seconds of the first track, “Dreamer.”

She begins the song in full acapella fashion, creating a vibe synonymous with the “doo-wop” genre of the 1940s before we’re introduced to the narrator from a first-person perspective. They are confident that “no boy’s gonna be so smart, as to try and pierce [their] porcelain heart,” and that confidence is mirrored in the artistry of the song.

In the second track, “Second Best,” the tone becomes melancholic, accompanied by low vocals and an electric guitar. This is the beginning of the narrator’s backstory, telling of an unbalanced relationship where they had to make all the effort.

“Haunted,” the album’s third song, embraces a mysterious tone with soft instrumentals I can only describe as elevator-like. It dives further into the story introduced in “Second Best,” bringing a separate layer into the relationship as “[they] swear to [themself] as he leaves at dawn, this will end, till he haunts [them] again.”

In the fifth track, “While You Were Sleeping,” Laufey departs from the typically melancholic vibe of the album. The combination of instrumentals and vocals feels euphoric but hesitant; happy but unsure. This song establishes that “there must be something wrong.”

The sixth — and my personal favorite — song is called “Lovesick.” Beautiful string arrangements mix with massive choral moments to create a very powerful piece of music. This song serves as the climax of the buildup produced in the last two songs as the narrator finds themself abandoned.

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The eighth track, “Nocturne (Interlude)” serves as the intermission between acts. A purely pianistic track, it combines melodies from several songs in the first act.

The ninth song, “Promise,” takes on a deeply depressing tone. After losing their partner, the narrator finds it difficult to readjust, which is reflected in the slow pacing of Laufey’s hushed vocals.

The 11th song, “Misty,” feels like something one may hear in a jazz club, meaning it’s more traditional. The theme of mist in this song is related to the disconnect the narrator experiences as they process their emotions.

In “Letter To My 13 Year Old Self,” the 13th song, Laufey departs from the story told over the course of the album. She embraces a highly acoustic sound in a beautiful ode to her younger self that is highly relatable as 13 is an extremely hard age to navigate. This is my second favorite song on “Bewitched.”

“Bewitched,” the final song of the album, is certainly a worthy conclusion. A highly orchestral sound compliments Laufey’s vocals nicely and I can visualize her words as though I’m watching a movie. The love story built throughout the album concludes as the narrator realizes they don’t need to feel “bewitched” by their ex-partner anymore.

Laufey’s second studio album, “Bewitched,” is an observation of love’s difficulties, and the story is told through varying instrumentals, complex lyricism, and uniquely gorgeous vocals. At only 24 years old, Laufey is taking the music industry by storm. I highly recommend giving her a listen.

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About the Contributor
Will Bower
Will Bower, Arts Reporter
Will Bower is a freshman student at the University of Iowa. Hailing from the suburbs of Des Moines, Will has a double major in Journalism and History. Before arriving in Iowa City, Will worked on his high school publication and was active in the theatrical arts. At the Daily Iowan, Will works as a news reporter and looks forward to gaining experience in a professional newsroom.