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February 25, 2024

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We: Mitski's love album (that isn't a love album)

By JAY TAYLOR | October 7, 2023



In Mitski's new album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, the beloved indie rock artist explores the inner beauty in the act of love.

 “The best thing I ever did in my life was to love people,” Mitski said in an interview with Dead Oceans. “I wish I could leave behind all the love I have, after I die, so that I can shine all this goodness, all this good love that I’ve created onto other people.”

Mitski’s newest album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We (The Land), released Sept. 15, grapples exactly with that — her ever-present ability to love, despite the heartache it may bring. No stranger to yearning and painful self-awareness, Mitski’s return to music after her 2022 album Laurel Hell has shocked many of her fans with her unexpected album turnaround. Since her rise to fame with 2018 album Be the Cowboy, Mitski has amassed a fanbase loyal to her gut-wrenching lyrics and unique sound.

Sonically, The Land leans on Mitski’s Nashville roots (where she has resided since 2020) while echoing her earlier works. The dramatic strings and woodwinds found in her 2013 album Retired from Sad, New Career in Business and the droning guitar from Bury Me At Makeout Creek in 2014 are used in The Land while intertwining with an older, classic country sound. 

The Land is a stylistic turn from the synth-heavy Laurel Hell and pop-influenced Be the Cowboy, echoing the soundscapes of her earlier works while centering around lyrical themes of self-realization, vulnerability and isolation. Despite fixating around the theme of love, The Land is not a romance album. Fluctuating between matters of freedom and self-loathing, The Land discusses Mitski’s journey, both highs and lows, with loneliness and finding herself after heartbreak. 

Mitski opens the album bearing her all in “Bug Like An Angel,“ a haunting ballad about her use of alcohol to cope with her loneliness. “Buffalo Replaced” follows, a wild, hopeful track about the freedom found in isolation and in oneself. “Heaven” leans heavily into country musical influences — complete with sliding guitars — while reflecting on the aching feeling of reminiscing and yearning for a past lover. “I Don’t Like My Mind” continues Mitski’s vulnerability as she recounts her excessiveness through overworking and overconsumption to cope with her isolation.

This low in her loneliness continues in “The Deal,” in which Mitski begs to get rid of her soul to simply not have one anymore, her frenzy coming to a crescendo at the end. She then surrenders to her loneliness in “When Memories Snow,” where Mitski reflects, painfully self-aware, about her constant habit to repress memories and emotions, only for them to slowly leak into her daily life and constantly torment her. 

“My Love All Mine” marks a turn in the album, where Mitski starts to realize that her inclination to love, regardless of the pain and chaos of it all, is one of the best things she can do or possess; despite the uninhabitable, lonely hellscape it can yield, her ability to love is something she wants to outlive her. “The Frost” reflects on these feelings of loneliness that love yields, despite its power — however, her attitude further shifts in “Star,” where she reminisces fondly on the joy that a love now lost once brought. 

“I’m Your Man” culminates Mitski's self-aware reflections, where she concedes to her mistakes in her previous relationship. Despite admitting her flaws both during and after her relationship, Mitski’s journey ends in the cathartic “I Love Me After You,” where she becomes “king of all the land” in her proverbial inhospitable landscape of loneliness. It is through recognizing her capacity to profoundly love people, despite her mistakes and the potential pain that love brings, that she is able to finally arise victorious. 

No matter who she loves, if she is in love, or if she loves imperfectly, Mitski realizes that her ability to love is something incredible, powerful and profound. The Land captures her journey with this realization in its totality, portraying both her triumphs and her setbacks. 

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