The breakout success of 2016'sPuberty 2sawMitskihailed as the new vanguard of indie rock, the one to save the genre from the white dudes who've historically dominated it. But the often overlooked aspect of being a rising star is the sheer amount of work that goes into it. "I had been on the road for a long time, which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time,"Mitskiexplains, "a lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent, but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back toMitski. I was feeling really nihilistic and trying to make pop songs."
We want our artists to be strong but we also expect them to be vulnerable. Rather than avoiding this dilemma, she addresses directly the power that comes from appearing impenetrable and loneliness that follows. "With a lot of the romantic infatuations I've had," she says, "when I look back, I wonder, Did I want them or did I want to be them? Did I love them or did I want to absorb whatever power they had? I decided I could just be my own cowboy figure that I so desire." InBe The Cowboy,Mitskidelves into the loneliness of being a symbol and the loneliness of being someone, and how it can feel so much like being no one.
Limited opaque red colored vinyl LP pressing. 2022 release. With Laurel Hell, Mitski cements her reputation as an artist in possession of such power - capable of using her talent to perform the alchemy that turns our most savage and alienated experiences into the very elixir that cures them. Her critically beloved last album, Be the Cowboy, built on the breakout acclaim of 2016's Puberty 2 and launched her from cult favorite to indie star. She ascended amid a fever of national division, and the grind of touring and pitfalls of increased visibility influenced her music as much as her spirit. 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. Exhausted by this warped mirror, and our addiction to false binaries, she began writing songs that stripped away the masks and revealed the complex and often contradictory realities behind them. She wrote many of these songs during or before 2018, while the album finished mixing 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." Sometimes it's hard to see the change when you're the agent of it, but for the lucky rest of us, Mitski has written 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.
AskMitski Miyawakiabout happiness and she'll warn you: "Happiness fucks you." It's a lesson that's been writ large into the New Yorker's gritty, outsider-indie for years, but never so powerfully as on her newest album,Puberty 2. "Happiness is up, sadness is down, but one's almost more destructive than the other," she says. "When you realize you can't have one without the other, it's possible to spend periods of happiness just waiting for that other wave." OnPuberty 2, that tension is palpable: a both beautiful and brutal romantic hinterland, in which one of America's new voices hits a brave new stride.
"No one else can make shattering sound like such an act of strength." - Stereogum
"Her songs build a quiet fury with lyrics that pulverize the heart while still making a break-up seem almost beautiful." - Paste Magazine
1. Happy 2. Dan The Dancer 3. Once More To See You 4. Fireworks 5. Your Best American Girl 6. I Bet On Losing Dogs 7. My Body's Made Of Crushed Little Stars 8. Thursday Girl 9. A Loving Feeling 10. Crack Baby 11. A Burning Hill