Anyone looking for something to stir up some long-forgotten emotions this week is totally in luck — Mitski’s new album The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” articulates dense themes surrounding memory and loneliness without sacrificing any of the artist’s typical poetic lyricism in this new album.
With a country undertone that’s new for Mitski, the album starts off strong with the ballad, “Bug Like an Angel,” a previous single. Beginning with Mitski’s soft voice, the interjection of a full choir on the word “family” in the chorus immediately shatters the listener’s expectations. It is the perfect way to start an album, bringing up key concepts like memory and introspection while simultaneously leaving the listener wondering what is to come.
The next track — “Buffalo Replaced” — picks up the pace a bit. Painting pictures of a quiet country town, Mitski stirs up a nostalgic feeling within the listener and curates a setting for the rest of the album. “Heaven” and “I Don’t Like My Mind” — both songs with strong country undertones — follow, further coloring the small-town country picture.
The backing track of “Heaven” is reminiscent of a classic country ballad, yet Mitski’s exceedingly indie tone creates a fascinating juxtaposition that underscores the entire album. Belts in “I Don’t Like My Mind” add a transcendent feeling, especially as she brings up concepts of overwhelming memories and loneliness that many can relate to. She croons out lyrics about her memories coming back to haunt her — “And it may be a few years, but you can bet it's there, waiting still / For me to be left alone in a room full of things that I’ve done.”
“I Don’t Like My Mind” is followed by “The Deal” — a verbalization of the chaotic state of Mitski’s mind. The combination of soul-crushing lyrics such as “I want someone to take this soul / I can’t bear to keep it,” with the chaotic drums as she wails out, “There’s a deal that I made,” makes the listeners feel as if they are spinning out with her as she slowly loses her grip on sanity.
A quick song at only one minute and 44 seconds, “When Memories Snow” is a subdued follow-up to “The Deal.” The epitome of a Mitski song with imagery vivid enough to illustrate a scene in the listener’s head, “When Memories Snow” inspires the confrontation of old memories as Mitski sings “And when memories melt / I hear them in the drainpipe / Drippin’ through the downspout / As I lie awake in the dark.”
Mistki pours her soul into “My Love Mine All Mine,” which stands as a gut-wrenching love song. As she sings, “Nothing in the world belongs to me / But my love, mine, all mine, all mine,” the lyrics hit the listener so hard in the chest that they start feeling her emotions like they were their own all along.
“The Frost” circles back to the country essence of the album while simultaneously twisting the knife that “My Love Mine All Mine” just plunged into one’s chest. The lyrics in this song are incredibly raw. “You’re my best friend / Now I’ve no one to tell / How I lost my best friend” perfectly articulates the emptiness and loss associated with the end of a friendship held dear.
“Star” comes next, a track notably reminiscent of earlier Mitski songs such as “Pink in the Night” or “Two Slow Dancers” in its ethereal feel. It is followed up by “I’m Your Man,” which ties right into the rural imagery painted in “Buffalo Replaced.” It feels notably raw, with dogs barking in the background and the sounds of crickets closing the song out.
The album closes out with “I Love Me After You,” a song in which she expresses that she loves someone so much that it outweighs even what she feels for herself. The loud, electric-guitar led outro ending with the mundane sounds of equipment being unplugged is the perfect culmination of a record as emotional as this. Mitski sings about emotions that seem larger than life, but really she is just a girl talking about feelings that she grapples with every day.
Mitski truly exceeded expectations with this album. While staying true to her trademark unique tone and lyricism, the artist provides a healthy dose of experimentation. The record is surreal and relatable all at once, proving once again how talented of a musician Mitski really is.
“The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” is an incredible work with a timeless sound that people will certainly enjoy for years to come.