Mitski’s highly anticipated new album, Laurel Hell, is out now on Dead Oceans. In conjunction, she presents the Maegan Houng-directed 'Stay Soft' video, which shows Mitski as an elaborate performer – her cathartic movements on full display.
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. 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. The 'Stay Soft' video opens in the titular canyons of Laurel Hell with Mitski at dusk carefully tending to her vast and luscious Victorian gothic garden, giving it her body and soul without knowing she’s being surveilled from a distance, on the verge of being attacked.
Director Maegan Houang shares: “This video is heavily inspired by Romanticism and paintings and artwork from the Victorian era. Like the lyrics of the song ‘Stay Soft,’ paintings from that era have a gentle quality, but they still evoke a certain feeling of unexplored darkness and danger. I want the audience to feel safe within this fabricated world and then realize that the character Mitski plays is being hunted. The violence lurking beneath the surface emerges, and yet is still transformed into something beautiful via dance. Through the dance sequence, Mitski’s character is able to conquer the violence, but not without irreparable harm to her psyche.”
PRAISE FOR LAUREL HELL
"Mitski wields her voice like a weapon, cutting into the deepest parts of the human condition with hauntingly clear-eyed lyrics."
Kish Lal, The Sydney Morning Herald
"Even when baring her soul, Mitski can’t help but acknowledge the cliché; she makes “main character” songs for people who know that every main character is another meaningless speck of dust in a vast, cruel cosmos."
Shaad D'Souza, The Saturday Paper
"...it's not just the stories that she's telling, it's the way that she's creating the sound and the way that you feel listening to it that makes it so compelling and interesting."
Osman Faruqi, The Culture