Review: Mitski Leads With Love on ‘The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We’


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The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We

4.5 out of 5

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We is as declarative a thesis statement as any. It’s also the title track to Mitski’s powerful and cinematic new record. Mitski has proven to be adept at holding a mirror up to humanity, but she expands that skill on this record tenfold. She creates a microcosm of sorts, representative of the powerful effects of love on the other people in her life. Despite the spiny title, Mitski leads with a positive outlook on the troubles that plague our relationships and the world around us.

The album opens with a track as sweeping and expansive as possible, “Bug Like An Angel.” Her refined vocals echo around an invisible room before a sizable choir comes in to help her out. As I got older, I learned I’m a drinker / Sometimes a drink feels like family, she sings in the rich, if melancholy track.

[RELATED: Mitski Previews ‘The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We’ in Nashville]

She follows it up with a song that is similarly affecting, “Buffalo Replaced,” before switching to a western-flavored track, “Heaven.” Mitski employs a good amount of country accouterments to the record–which is likely thanks to her semi-recent move to Nashville. “Heaven” is a heart-swelling example of Mitski’s knack for writing visual lyrics: Now I bend like a willow / Thinkin’ of you / Like a murmurin’ brook / Curvin’ about you / As I sip on the rest of the coffee you left / A kiss left of you.

A highlight from the album is stuck right in the middle, “The Deal.” Haunting and, once again, atmospheric (if Mitski’s music is anything it’s atmospheric), “The Deal” sees the singer-songwriter wage her soul on a shooting star. In the end, she finds she is the one caging her soul in and not the other way around. Dealing with the devil (or in this case some unidentified force) is a familiar facet of music. However, Mitski does what she does best with this track: innovate.

Another stunner is “My Love Mine All Mine.” The track gets down to the core of the record. “I Wish I could leave behind all the love I have after I die so that I can shine all this goodness,” Mitski previously said of the record. “My Love Mine All Mine” is the direct result of that idea.

Moon, tell me if I could / Send up my heart to you / So, when I die, which I must do / Could it shine down here with you, the lyrics read.

One of the leading tracks from the album, “Star,” holds up as one of the strongest efforts. Remember when we met? / We acted like two fools / We were so glad / So glad to have found it, she sings in the curtain-closing track about finding long-awaited love. Though there are two more stunning tracks left on the track list, “Star” feels like a final bow before returning for an encore.

Few albums in recent memory are as thematically bold and cohesive as The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. Mitski has a firm world built around her. Her identity as a musician has been long set in motion.

Nevertheless, she flies past her own mark in this record, creating something more multifaceted than ever before.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz, Courtesy of Dead Oceans

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