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I think we can all agree that it’s been a rather long few weeks, or months, or years really. Personally, the unending wash of horrible headlines gets exhausting after a while, and fighting a growing cynicism becomes more like a full time job rather than a change in philosophy.
However, despite the new normal that seems to have crept out on to us from the shadows of the last 30 years, Mitski has once again proved that honesty and originality is what will save us from the darkness we find ourselves collectively staring into. The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We reminds us that even in the depths of loneliness and depression, we find each other more than we lose ourselves.
The Land is Inhospitable
This is Mitski’s seventh studio album, which alone is crazy to hear, but that she has delivered seven truly amazing projects is a feat that is unmatched by most in the industry. The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We is another addition to a remarkably unblemished career of excellence. Mitski continues to amaze even with the expectation of doing so.
As one of the greatest songwriters currently producing, the 11 track, 32 minute album is floor-to-ceiling genius in writing and production. Beginning with the almost alarmingly gorgeous intro and single "Bug Like an Angel," Mitski leaves none of her lyrical talent behind as a sweeping choral hook brings you in and mesmerizes. She continues with almost methodical focus from track to track, drawing the listener close with intimate guitar, string, and lyrical arrangements before flooring you with orchestral production.
Stand out tracks like "I Don’t Like My Mind," "When Memories Snow," "My Love Mine All Mine," and "I'm Your Man" feature Mitski’s patented style of longing, hate, and bottomless sorrow in stunning force. The amount of emotion compressed into half an hour is something only Mitski could achieve, leaving poetic lyrics that amaze from the first listen all the way through the 15th. As a musical and writing achievement, The Land is Inhospitable is an accomplishment amongst many, with little to leave wanting.
No Longer the Cowboy
Following her almost nauseating, sad album Laurel Hell from 2022, The Land is Inhospitable is a departure from Mitski’s previous sounds. While Laurel Hell itself was a shift in sound, trading angsty, grungy, and progressive guitar for electronic trappings, The Land is Inhospitable shifts again. Finding a home in indie folk, classical, and even some country inspirations, Mitski delivers this album from a new, if somewhat familiar, place.
This shift was difficult at first, making me reevaluate what I love about Mitski in the first place. I found myself revisiting my favorite tracks from Puberty 2 and Bury Me At Makeout Creek, simply to understand why I felt so hung up about The Land is Inhospitable. I realized that the big, bold, and brash instrumentals and lyrics from Mitski’s past acted more as highlights. While the albums are absolutely incredible (if you haven’t heard Mitski’s previous work, please do yourself a favor), in hindsight they feel more like collections rather than full bodies of work, Laurel Hell excluded.
Personally, this draws little away from her previous projects, but it does create a massive newfound appreciation for The Land is Inhospitable. The album front to back is deliberate, staying within a tight, focused sound and style that remains intimate and emotionally saturated from beginning to end. The Land is Inhospitable feels like a singular thought stretched into 11 sections. Mitski’s dramatic departure from her established sound was a shock to say the least, but nothing short of spectacular.
And So Are We
When I heard The Land is Inhospitable for the first time, I had the fortune and privilege to hear it two days early, among a collection of Mitski fans, sitting outside our local record store at my first ever listening party. Locked Groove Records (which you should totally check out and give love to) organized a food truck and an outdoor listening event, courtesy of Mitski’s label Dead Oceans. The beginning of this listening party began with a message from Mitski, thanking us for being fans and asking us to experience the album together. While it felt like nothing outstanding at first, it became apparent how important that request was.
Mind you, album messages are nothing new, notably Xxxtentacion has added brief intro tracks at the beginning of both ? and 17. However, Mitski’s message felt not only more genuine, but also more crucial to the album as a whole. Doing dishes while listening to the album for the third time in a row, I realized why it struck such a chord with me. Where I expected the familiar brand of loneliness only Mitski can deliver, I was instead faced with the most social album she has ever released. I was alarmed at how long it took me to get there, hell it’s even in the name (So Are We). The Land is Inhospitable is a lonely, sad, and bitter letter to the rest of the world that someone, somewhere, is going through it too.
Mitksi doesn’t cheer you up and give you hope, but she acknowledges that we all have problems, and we’re going through them together. You won’t find a shoulder to cry on, you won’t find comfort, you might not even find solace in this album. The Land is Inhospitable, and So Are We is a nod of solidarity, a lonely voice singing a beautiful song that we all feel like we’ve heard too many times before. It is a reminder that we are closer to each other in the moments we feel the furthest apart.
I Guess this is the End
To say I expected greatness coming into a new Mitski album would be an understatement. To only say she delivered one of the most concise, driven, and powerful albums of her career would not nearly be enough. The Land is Inhospitable, and So Are We is a cut down, quiet, and intimate message to the clan of humanity. Using gorgeous orchestral styles and a newfound sound, Mitski reminds us how easy it is to feel lost when we’re right next to each other.
Contact Elijah Wachs with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org