Mitski – The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We 

Mitski is recognized as perhaps one of the best singer-songwriters on the scene today. The expectations for the new album were high, and she rose to the occasion. The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We is her most impressive project to date. Her previous album Laurel Hell was filled with electrifying synth-pop moments, by comparison, her seventh studio album is a sobering experience. We find Mitski’s emotions projected onto everything around her, from the celestial, through the physical landscape, and to the divine. The album is a sweeping musical epic spanning essential facets of human experience; a meditation on one’s own estrangement. It’s a brutally honest chronicle of the struggle to find self-love. The lyrics capture private sorrows and complex contradictions, encapsulated in music that’s simultaneously forceful and lethargic.

“Bug Like an Angel” kicks off Miski’s most acoustic-driven Americana/folk-sounding album thus far. The majority of the track is a stripped-back tune, with the exception of a few phrases that welcome the surprising addition of a choir. The handful of voices took me off guard at first, they seemed to come out of nowhere each time.

“Buffalo Replaced”: For me the lyrics bring to mind imagery of living in the remote desert, in Asteroid City or something. With the freight train silently rolling by in the moonlight.

“Heaven”: In this song, love and the warmth between two people fills up the entire room. Their loved one fills their head with imagery and longing. Despite the darkness that surrounds them there’s solace in their shared space.

“I Don’t Like My Mind”: In this song Mitski’s literary voice and musical prowess come together to evoke intense emotions. We find someone who’s hit rock bottom, they’d rather engage in work or distraction than confront their painful memories. I blast music loud, and I work myself to the bone / And on an inconvenient Christmas, I eat a cake…. And then I get sick and throw up and there’s another memory that gets stuck / Inside the walls of my skull waiting for its turn to talk / And it may be a few years, but you can bet it’s there, waiting still

“The Deal”: This song conveys more mysterious imagery. The lyrics describe a nighttime walk, contemplating giving away their soul in exchange for a release.

“When Memories Snow”: The lyrics compare memories to snow covering a driveway, symbolizing their presence and weight. Mitski seeks a break or respite, finding comfort in her room while engaging in creative pursuits. The lyrics explore themes of memory, emotional burden, and the solace of creative expression.

“My Love Mine All Mine”: Mitski wishes she could send her love to the moon so that it can forever shine down on her baby on earth. The moon will be there forever, and she will not.

“The Frost”: This song is a world of solitude and loneliness reflecting on the absence of someone to confide in. The frost symbolizes a frozen and cold emotional state.

“Star” describes another state of loneliness, despite the loss of the relationship the love has an enduring impact. She compares it to a star that continues to shine even though it’s gone.

“I’m Your Man”: This song starts off intense with the lines You’re an angel, I’m a dog / Or you’re a dog and I’m your man / You believe me like a God / I destroy you like I am. The song depicts a complex and somewhat tumultuous relationship dynamic. They describe feeling inferior or flawed compared to a partner.

“I Love Me After You”: The album closes out with a sense of self-assuredness and self-love. She ends in a moment of self-care and self-appreciation, emphasizing their confidence and comfort in their own skin.

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We exudes a sense of starting anew, it stands out as distinct from anything she has previously released. The music occasionally adopts a shoegazy quality, which manages to convey both a sense of strength and sluggishness simultaneously. However, the album’s predominant style is country, or more precisely, pop country which emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This includes elements like weeping pedal steel guitars, ballads in a waltz time signature, the gentle patter of brushes on snare drums, ethereal reverb effects, harmonious backing vocals, and grand orchestral arrangements. It slips between the heartfelt and the sardonic without ever losing its grip on the listener.

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