News, Reviews

Mitski Announces “Laurel Hell” New Album Out 4th February on Dead Oceans

November 10, 2021
Photo credit – Ebru Yildiz

Mitski Announces Laurel Hell, New Album Out 4th February on Dead Oceans

Mitski made her bold return last month, presenting “Working for the Knife” and announcing a world tour, with all UK dates selling out instantly. Now, Mitski announces Laurel Hell, her new album, out 4th February on Dead Oceans, and unveils a new single/video, “The Only Heartbreaker.” Laurel Hell is a soundtrack for transformation, a map to the place where vulnerability and resilience, sorrow and delight, error and transcendence can all sit within our humanity, can all be seen as worthy of acknowledgment, and ultimately, love. “I accept it all,” she promises. “I forgive it all.” It cements Mitski’s reputation as an artist who possesses the power of turning our most savage and alienated experiences into the very elixir that cures them. “I wrote what I needed to hear. As I’ve always done.

In 2018 Be the Cowboy launched Mitski from cult favourite to indie star, she ascended amid a fever of national division. The grind of touring and pitfalls of increased visibility influenced her music as much as her spirit, as expressed in “Working for the Knife,” a song that was a touchstone in creating the overall feel of Laurel Hell: “I start the day lying and end with the truth / That I’m dying for the knife.” Be the Cowboy was driven by personas of female strength and defiance that, however compelling, amounted to the musician “putting on different masks.” Like the mountain laurels for this new album is named, public perception, like the intoxicating prism of the internet, can offer an alluring façade that obscures a deadly trap—one that tightens the more you struggle. “I got to a point,” Mitski admits, “where I just knew that if I kept going this way, I would numb myself to completion.”

Exhausted by this warped mirror, and our addiction to false binaries, Mitski began writing songs that stripped away the masks and revealed the complex and often contradictory realities behind them. “I needed love songs about real relationships that are not power struggles to be won or lost,” she explains. “I needed songs that could help me forgive both others and myself. I make mistakes all the time. I don’t want to put on a front where I’m a role model, but I’m also not a bad person. I needed to create this space mostly for myself where I sat in that gray area.

The songs that resulted embody that space. New single “The Only Heartbreaker,” co-written with Dan Wilson, and the first such song in her discography, pairs soaring pop swells with deceptively straightforward lyrics whose sincere refrain turns ironic as it depicts “the person always messing up in the relationship, the designated Bad Guy who gets the blame It could simply be about that, but I also wanted to depict something sadder beneath the surface, that maybe the reason you’re always the one making mistakes is because you’re the only one trying.” Mitski sings: “So I’ll be the loser in this game // I’ll be the bad guy in the play // I’ll be the water main that’s burst inflames // You’ll be by the window only watching.”

“The Only Heartbreaker” video, co-directed by Maegan Houang and Jeff Desom, presents the bewildering experience of Mitski’s first time being filmed almost entirely in front of a green screen. Houang comments, “The worst pain I’ve experienced is when I’ve fully understood the pain I’ve caused another. It’s one of the hardest parts of being human, that no matter our intentions, we’ll inevitably do something hurtful to our fellow man, if not someone we love.  In this case, the harm Mitski enacts in the video is to the world.  It’s unstoppable and destructive, but worst of all, she doesn’t even want it to happen.  She’s a stand-in for humanity as we collectively do so little to save ourselves and our planet.” 

Decadent synths surround this immersive environment that centres the sweeter vocal harmonies of Mitski as they proudly showcase this diverse range against the intensive peaks. Amongst this rhythmic and melodic world filled with big tones and sweeping sounds, Mitski offsets the magnitude of those attributes by bringing this emotional texture into focus with the intimate lyrics and softer harmonies.

Mitski wrote many of these songs during or before 2018, and the album was finished being mixed in May 2021. It is the longest span of time Mitski has ever spent on a record, and a process that concluded amid a radically changed world. She recorded Laurel Hell with her longtime producer Patrick Hyland throughout the isolation of a global pandemic, during which some of the songs “slowly took on new forms and meanings, like seed to flower.” The album as a whole evolved “to be more uptempo and dance-y. I needed to create something that was also a pep talk.” Mitski explains.  The tension that emerges between her refined but plaintive lyrics and the effervescent 1980s sound is a desperately needed infusion, and the work of a mature artist: an album that delivers nuanced profundity on a current of contagious dance beats. It is irresistible. 

Pre-order Laurel Hell

Lauren Hell Tracklist

1. Valentine, Texas

2. Working for the Knife

3. Stay Soft

4. Everyone

5. Heat Lightning

6. The Only Heartbreaker

7. Love Me More

8. There’s Nothing Left For You

9. Should’ve Been Me

10. I Guess

11. That’s Our Lamp

Mitski Tour Dates

17 Feb. 2022 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel – SOLD OUT

18 Feb. 2022 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz – SOLD OUT

19 Feb. 2022 – Atlanta, GA @ The Eastern – SOLD OUT

21 Feb. 2022 – Birmingham, AL @ Iron City – SOLD OUT

22 Feb. 2022 – New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre – SOLD OUT

24 Feb. 2022 – Houston, TX @ The Lawn at White Oak Music Hall – SOLD OUT

25 Feb. 2022 – Dallas, TX @ The Factory in Deep Ellum – SOLD OUT

26 Feb. 2022 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live at Moody Theater – SOLD OUT

28 Feb. 2022 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren – SOLD OUT

2 March 2022 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Exposition Hall – SOLD OUT

3 March 2022 – Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Exposition Hall – SOLD OUT

4 March 2022 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater – SOLD OUT

5 March 2022 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater – SOLD OUT

7 March 2022 – Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall – SOLD OUT

9 March 2022 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre – SOLD OUT

10 March 2022 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre – SOLD OUT

12 March 2022 – Denver, CO @ Mission Ballroom – SOLD OUT

14 March 2022 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre – SOLD OUT

15 March 2022 – Milwaukee, WI @ Miller High Life Theatre – SOLD OUT

17 March 2022 – Detroit, MI @ Masonic Temple Theatre – SOLD OUT

18 March 2022 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall – SOLD OUT

19 March 2022 – Montreal, QC @ St-Jean-Baptiste Church – SOLD OUT

21 March 2022 – Boston, MA @ Roadrunner – SOLD OUT

22 March 2022 – Boston, MA @ Roadrunner – SOLD OUT

24 March 2022 – New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall – SOLD OUT

25 March 2022 – Philadelphia, PA @ Franklin Music Hall – SOLD OUT

26 March 2022 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem – SOLD OUT

27 March 2022 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem – SOLD OUT

29 March 2022 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE – SOLD OUT

30 March 2022 – Louisville, KY @ Old Forester’s Paristown Hall – SOLD OUT

31 March 2022 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium – SOLD OUT

21 April 2022 – Bristol, UK @ Marble Factory – SOLD OUT

22 April 2022 – Leeds, UK @ University Union Refectory – SOLD OUT

23 April 2022 – Glasgow, UK @ Barrowland Ballroom – SOLD OUT

25 April 2022 – Dublin, IE @ Vicar Street – SOLD OUT

26 April 2022 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Academy – SOLD OUT

28 April 2022 – London, UK @ The Roundhouse – SOLD OUT

29 April 2022 – London, UK @ O2 Academy Brixton – SOLD OUT

30 April 2022 – Brussels, BE @ Les Nuits Botanique Festival – SOLD OUT

2 May 2022 – Tourcoing, FR @ Le Grand Mix – SOLD OUT

3 May 2022 – Paris, FR @ L’Olympia 

4 May 2022 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso – SOLD OUT

6 May 2022 – Zurich, CH @ Kaufleuten 

7 May 2022 – Lausanne, CH @ Les Docks 

9 May 2022 – Berlin, DE @ Metropol – SOLD OUT

10 May 2022 – Copenhagen, DK @ Vega – SOLD OUT

11 May 2022 – Stockholm, SE @ Fållan 

12 May 2022 – Oslo, NO @ Sentrum Scene

14 May 2022 – Hamburg, DE @ Fabrik – SOLD OUT

15 May 2022 – Cologne, DE @ Carlswerk Victoria – SOLD OUT

17 May 2022 – Vienna, AU @ WUK – SOLD OUT

18 May 2022 – Prague, CZ @ Archa Theatre – SOLD OUT

19 May 2022 – Munich, DE @ Strom – SOLD OUT

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