A year and a half after her 2022 comeback album Laurel Hell, we have been graced with Mitski’s seventh studio album The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We. With poetically crafted themes of loneliness, nature, identity, and love, this is perhaps the most introspective Mitski album yet while also being a sonic departure from her previous work. Mitski has opted to go with a chamber pop and indie folk sound for this record. Many of the instrumentals on this album have a subtle hint of country music in them, which comes as no surprise given that this album was recorded in Nashville.
The single “Bug Like an Angel” also serves as the opening track of the album. With a soft acoustic start, the song progresses beautifully into lush cinematic instrumentation. The angelic choir vocals provide a nice parallel with the religious undertones of some of the lyrics, and a stark contrast to lyrical themes of alcoholism found within the song as well.
While not packing the same musical punch of “Bug Like an Angel”, the next track, “Buffalo Replaced”, is a lyrical standout on the album. Mitski’s poetic words come across as an ode to rural American nature. On a tracklist with many sad and somber songs, these lyrics stick out as a more content and happy view of life in the country.
The next song “Heaven” is the first of several tracks with a country twist. With acoustic/steel guitars and a soft swinging rhythm section, this song sounds like a country ballad of the 70’s or 80’s with an orchestral string section thrown in for good measure. In true Mitski fashion, the song touches on themes of broken relationships and mortality.
”I Don’t Like My Mind” is a true highlight of the album. Another country adjacent track, this one’s instrumental is filled with a bit more urgency; being a bit faster, louder, and climactic. The song’s lyrical themes focus on lacking self-control and the fear of being left alone with your thoughts. This song is truly a perfect sad indie bop.
Track five, “The Deal”, is a metaphorical masterpiece and might just be the best song on the album. The narrator tells a desolate story about a deal she made to exchange her soul for nothing, just wanting to get rid of it. This story pairs perfectly with the instrumental. The song starts with a gentle acoustic guitar driven first verse as the narrator sets the scene. The verse builds into a sudden and in-your-face orchestral chorus in which the narrator pleas for her soul to be taken. The music only adds to the story, with the ending of the tracking perfectly encapsulating this idea. As the narrator repeats the phrase, “There’s a deal that I made”, she becomes drowned out by increasingly loud drums, providing a dark and chaotic end to both the story and the song itself.
”When Memories Snow” is a shorter song with yet another beautiful orchestral piece to back it up. Despite its short length, I found this track to be incredibly encapsulating.
The seventh track “My Love Is All Mine” has Mitski singing about sending her love to the moon so that her partner may feel it shine on them once she is gone, all atop another country twanged instrumental. This may be the first “sweet” Mitski song ever.
The next two songs, “The Frost” and “Star”, take a hard left turn from the endearing message of the previous track. “The Frost” has a simple country instrumental while Mitski describes how cold the world can be when you’ve lost love. “Star” is a longing slow-burn of a song which continues the theme of lost love.
The penultimate track “I’m Your Man” is perhaps one of the saddest songs on the entire album. The lyrics are incredibly self-deprecating as Mitski sings of a broken relationship yet again, this time with regret that she never appreciated her partner while they were together. This song also has one of the most interesting musical choices of the record, having over a minute of dogs barking in the background as the song concludes.
The final track of the album is “I Love Me After You”. With hopeful lyrics of self-care, this song gives a promising ending to an emotionally turbulent album. Mitski is finally able to love the person she is, finding herself after the end of a relationship. This is a great flipside to the song that precedes it, and a powerful way to close out the album.
The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We is Mitski at her best. After switching up her sound on nearly each of her albums, she has finally found one that fits perfectly with her poetic style of writing. The music and lyrics are incredibly intertwined, both work toward the benefit of each other. Mitski came back to music because she had regained a love for it, and that could not be clearer than on this album. Mitski has crafted not only one of the best releases this year, but her best and most mature album yet.
- Tyler Abercrombie