Laufey's 'Bewitched' Is an Enchanting, Generation-Spanning Triumph

Photo: Lauren Kim

Icelandic-Chinese breakout star Laufey has a simple yet daunting mission—to be Gen Z's bridge to jazz and classical music. Capturing listeners' hearts one track at a time, the multi-hyphenate artist's second album, Bewitched, enchants with its richly detailed orchestral arrangements and her masterful musicality. Filled with swooning strings and gently sighing backing vocals, her lush offerings evoke something nostalgic yet modern that everyone of any generation can fall in love with.

The album opener, "Dreamer," begins with The Chordettes-evoking vocal harmonies, leading into a bittersweet shuffle. She reveals the side of herself that's introverted and jaded by too many "lifeless little chats." Meanwhile, "Second Best" follows with a stripped-back arrangement. Written initially as a fan's request on TikTok, the song explores being someone's "second best" while they are your "everything." 

"From The Start" is a breezy and chipper yet forlorn piece that tells an all too relatable tale of unrequited love laced with mellow soundscapes and rich vocals. Opening with minimalistic and summery guitar strumming, the soundscape leaves room for Laufey's decadent vocals to breathe and shine. When the soft, foot-tap-inducing percussion and bass lines chime in, she shares how awkwardly quiet she gets when her crush is around, confessing that their nonverbal communication doesn't make her feel much better. She begs, "Don't you dare look at me that way / I don't need reminders of how you don't feel the same."

Laufey also chooses not to reinvent the wheel regarding the antique jazz-pop sound she's already mastered. However, she clearly diversifies her palette, especially compared to her debut album, which prioritized a striking sonic cohesion. The chorus of "Lovesick" swells with an orchestral vastness and grandeur uncommon for Laufey's more subdued style. The Philharmonic Orchestra's contributions to "California And Me" give the track a Disney-esque classical flair to the breakout star's lyrics about a boy who leaves Los Angeles and the ensuing romance. The following "Nocturne" is a spellbinding interlude composition for solo piano that's as emotional as even the best of Laufey's vocal performances.

In "Letter To My 13 Year Old Self," she addresses her younger self with some heavily relatable lyrics, with the particular line, "Life is prettier than it may seem, one day, you'll bе up on stage, little girls will scream your namе." She delivers this encouraging letter of support with a level of grace and empathy that makes this song on an album of heart-rending, touching songs, maybe the most heart-rending and touching of them all.

In the album's titular finale, she introduces a tale of new love and explores feelings of passion, hesitancy, and how bewildering falling for someone can be. Full of lush, dreamy instrumentals and romantic chord progressions, Laufey's timeless vocal tone captivates and draws in the listener from the first moment. In the opening verse, she admits, "I didn't know that much at all / 'Bout love before," perhaps a reference to her debut album Everything I Know About Love, and declares that she might finally be learning. 

Laufey refines and perfects her traditional, classical, and jazz-influenced style on Bewitched. Her songwriting is more substantial, her hooks more memorable, and her instrumentation and pacing are impeccable. Laufey is more than just the promising young star we knew in her early career; she is crafting a generation-eschewing discography, one beautiful project at a time. 

Listen to Bewitched below:

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