Laurel Hell (Dead Oceans)

Contact Jessica Linker about Mitski

Mitski’s highly anticipated new album, Laurel Hell, is out today 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. Fans across the world will experience this live beginning in two weeks when Mitski kicks off her sold out North American Tour.

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.


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.” – Maegan Houang


“‘Stay Soft’ was a more straightforward rock song when I wrote it on guitar, but the darkly sexual lyrics sung in that context felt too heavy and melodramatic. So we couched the depressing lyrics in an inviting dance beat, which is a trick people have used for hundreds of years. The remnants of the original grungy feeling can be heard starting at the instrumental interlude, when the distorted guitar comes in.


“This song, frankly, is about hurt people finding each other, and using sex to make sense of their pain. This is by no means the correct way to cope with trauma, but it’s a thing people do regardless, and I always want to write songs about what we actually do, so that we don’t feel alone in them.” – Mitski


Mitski, Dead Oceans and IAMSOUND have partnered to present the Open Up Your Heart: Mitski’s Laurel Hell Pop Up events in New York and Los Angeles on February 5th, 12-6pm. Each event will include gallery-sized recreations of Laurel Hell’s art details, hand-drawn renditions of Mitski inspired by the video for “Love Me More,” and lightning bolt renditions of Laurel Hell lyrics snaking through each space. Open Up Your Heart will also feature Mitski merchandise and copies of the album, including the triple button on red with black vinyl previously available only on Mitski and Secretly’s webstores. RSVP not required for attendance. Proof of vaccination and booster required. For more information, visit