Mitski, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We

We are no longer betting on losing dogs

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4.5/5 Stars

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We portrays love, loneliness and self-care in a musical language that acknowledges and feels resigned to its fate. Whereas previous albums by Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski have had an equal balance of fast paced, guttural tracks and sadder, slower melodies, her seventh album maintains an aura of being in the final stage of grief: acceptance.  

Even on the album’s sixth track, “When Memories Snow,” a louder song on the album vocally, Mitski sounds starkly different from how we’re used to hearing her. 

The figure here is no longer the young woman who screamed pleas to her mother into her guitar. This change was first heard through the experimental synth and pop melodies in Mitski’s 2022 release Laurel Hell, her first album following a multi-year hiatus. 

Despite sounding very different from The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, Laurel Hell marked the beginning of a new era for Mitski, and that transformation has bled into her newest album. 

Mitski continues to pursue more experimental sounds in her latest work, making use of a choir on some tracks and crafting a musical landscape so complex that, upon first listen, one may miss its intricacies.

The images conjured throughout The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We pay homage to rural America, working in the Midwest-gothic. Every song feels like I am driving down country roads in an imaginary truck, dusk trailing behind me. A lonely atmosphere emanates from each of the eleven tracks, taking listeners on a road trip across lands of love and heartbreak. 

The album sounds like something a modern cowboy would put on while engaging in self-reflection, the cowboy figure being one Mitski has referenced before in her previous works.

Track 10 on the album, “I’m Your Man,” deals with a lover anticipating the oncoming destruction of a relationship after their true nature, something they feel is abominable, is revealed to their other half. A pack of barking dogs begins is heard near the song’s end, and grows louder as the judgment the lover is so afraid of finally arrives. 

This track is haunting, but the one that follows it to close out the album, “I Love Me After You,” tells a story of someone reclaiming themselves from a prior relationship. The speaker in this song is moving on and taking back the throne of their body.

It’s in these two tracks, cleverly and intentionally put back to back, that Mitski’s metamorphosis finally comes to fruition. While being known for her devastation, invoking feelings of desperation and sorrow that are relatable on what can feel like a metaphysical level, here we see her tackle these familiar ideas with this changed perspective of acceptance. 

Painful things will happen to you, but to love is never a waste. 

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We refuses to wallow in self-pity for too long, instead inviting listeners to be earnest with themselves and understand that while being open to love means being open to heartbreak, love will always be worth it, no matter the destruction that follows.