Review: Mitski teaches us how to heal after years of emotional turmoil
Top Track: “My Love Mine All Mine”
After a summer of anticipation, Mitski’s seventh album has been released just in time for sad girl autumn. Rife with her signature longing and self-reflection, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” is Mitski’s opportunity to show us how she lets go and where she goes from here through a tale of heartbreak, memories and recovery.
The first track, “Bug Like an Angel,” was released as a single in late July and ages well as an opener to the album. With moments of choir-driven harmony splicing into a lone acoustic guitar accompanied by her classic vocal style, this song vividly sets the first scene of what will be a rather cinematic journey.
“Buffalo Replaced” takes the album on an unexpected turn. The simple yet introspective lyrics give listeners lines to stew over like, “Freight train stampedin’ through my backyard /
It’ll run across the plains like the new buffalo replaced.” It feels like Mitski has dropped listeners in the scene of an Old Western on this short song. “Heaven” is a more nostalgic and expected Mitski track that still holds on to the countryside comfort of previous tracks. Swelling strings and poetic lyricism lend euphoria to an already dramatic song.
Strong vocals and explicitly pained lyrics throw us without warning into “I Don’t Like My Mind” in a ballad that is almost jarring. After the vagueness of “Buffalo Replaced,” we get lines such as, “I don’t like being left alone in a room / With all its opinions about the things that I’ve done.” Regret and guilt are contrasted with dancing vocal riffs reminiscent of “Love Me More.” Her vibrato shines best here and mirrors her performance on “First Love/Late Spring.”
Perhaps the most traditional of the album, “The Deal” pulls the listener in and holds us close. She tells us that our “pain is eased but [we’ll] never be free” and suddenly we realize that, maybe, we too would trade our souls for relief from our heartaches. Mistki knows she’s got us and then promptly leaves us while letting us know what we’re missing: “For now I’m taken, the night has me.”
In “When Memories Snow,” Mitski lets her past slip away. The choral aspects of “Bug Like an Angel” return for the climax of the album. The next track eases us back into the ride with “My Love Mine All Mine” with an empowering emphasis on what we are still capable of after heartbreak. Mitski’s love, both what she has given and what she has received, belongs to her. In a musical career riddled with lyrical loss and woe, this song provides a pleasant nudge away from the strictly painful in the album’s falling action.
The next track continues with warm sounds smothering desolate lyrics. “Frost” draws on the lulling melodies of a 70s Southern folk tune while reminding us of how Mitski no longer has anyone with whom to share this comfort. She has lost her best friend, but her emotional vulnerability leads us to believe we hold the same status.
“Star” stays true to the album’s celestial themes, albeit perhaps as more of an ambient transition than a standout track considering its selection for the pre-album EP. Mitski brings listeners back into the narrative with “I’m Your Man,” placing us both as the object of Mitski’s desire and the source of her suffering.
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