Back in 2018, following the release of her fifth album Be The Cowboy, Mitski announced plans to retire from music. She didn’t tell anyone how long she’d be gone, meaning that many fans began to worry she might never return. Lucky for them, Mitski soon found herself itching to get back on the horse, and decided to start work on her sixth album Laurel Hell.
Laurel Hell has been a huge success. The record became the biggest-selling album in America during its first week on the shelves, debuting at number five in the US, just behind albums by Gunna, Yo Gotti, Morgan Wallen, as well as the Encanto soundtrack.
Despite not hitting number one, Laurel Hell outranked every other album on the list in terms of pure sales numbers. Billboard confirmed that of 36,000 album units, 24,000 were sales. These figures do not include units made up buy streaming figures or purchases of individual tracks.
Now, Pitchfork has released a new episode of their long-running series Song x Song, in which Mitski sit down to reveal the inspirations for Laurel Hell via the three words she was asked to pick to describe each of the album’s eleven tracks.
Naming Laurel Hell their Album of the Week, Far Out wrote: “Laurel Hell invites you to trudge through the wasteland, relating to the trials and tribulations while being an equal part of the triumphs. Some might focus on the sombre setting without realising that the album is actually about escaping from that place”.
While Mitski is clearly proud of her work on Laurel Hell, she expressed doubts as to whether she’d made the right decision returning to the “super-saturated” music industry. Speaking to the BBC, Mitski said: “How does it feel to be releasing a record again? Terrible,” she told the BBC. “Absolutely terrible. It’s like, ‘Oh Jesus, here we go again.’ I thought I was having fun and now it’s no fun anymore.”
Make sure you check out Mitski’s breakdown of Laurel Hell below.