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The Huntington News

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Review: Mitski’s artistic ‘The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We’ gives listeners a lot to unpack

Emma Liu

Mitski Miyawaki dropped her newest heart-wrenching album Sept. 15 titled “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We,” and it is stunningly beautiful. Following the legacy of her past discography, the writer sticks to her pessimistic-toned roots with painstaking imagery.

Known mononymously as “Mitski,” the Japanese-American singer-songwriter’s sixth LP, “Laurel Hell,” was speculated to be her last release. She had previously shared that she would be taking an indefinite leave from performing and only produced that album due to an obligation to her label. But fans were ecstatic when Mitski decided to continue producing music and announced her seventh LP.

“There are a lot of things about working in the music industry and about being in the public eye that feels like it goes against my nature,” she explained in a video to her mailing list. “I am also in a miraculously lucky position to be able to make music…and to have an audience like you who gives me the opportunity to perform.”

The trajectory of the album takes the listener through a whirl of emotions, starting with the LP’s first track, “Bug Like an Angel,” which dropped July 26. 

“I try to remember the wrath of the devil / Was also given him by God,” she sings, reminiscing with a religious mind on the promises that she has broken and touching on themes of alcoholism. “I wanted the listener to take whatever they need from [the lyric],” she explained in a behind-the-song video. 

While most of her songs are cemented in darker motifs, the album also extends her gratitude towards the people she loves. “Now I bend like a willow / Thinkin’ of you,” she lulls as she imagines her lover, singing, “As I sip on the rest of the coffee you left / A kiss left of you” in “Heaven” to reveal her devotion to her lover simplistically. Mitski keeps much of her personal life private, such as in “My Love Mine All Mine,” expressing “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?” and hoping that her love will outlast her.

Mitski moves on to lament in “The Deal” as she agonizes, “I want someone to take this soul / I can’t bear to keep it, I’d give it just to give / And all I will take are the consequences.” She deals with the devil in the same way someone wishes on a star naively and wants to stop the pain of her feelings.

She uses snow as a metaphor for memories throughout the album, specifically in “The Frost” when she uses it to describe the pain of losing a friend. “Now the world is mine alone / With no one, no one to share the memory,” she sings, the cold coming across as her realization of her loneliness. A theme of self-accountability and her lack thereof runs throughout not only the album but heavily in her discography.

Following “The Frost” is “Star,” one of the standout songs of the album. Mitski tells the tale of a lost love, comparing it to a star — the death of a star can be seen from all over, but it is much dimmer in its afterlife. “You know I’d always been alone / ‘Til you taught me / To live for somebody,” she reflects, wondering, “Isn’t it worth holding on?” to return to the passion that their relationship once had.

The romance is immediately followed by the aggressive patriarchal dismay in “I’m Your Man.” She turns away from her soft-spoken tone to scream at the sky. “You believe me like a god / I betray you like a man,” she sings, representing an intense relationship in which her lover romanticizes her as a divine figure rather than the vulnerable human she really is. It prevented her from making mistakes and falling to pieces because she was the god they worshipped, satirizing men’s emotional tendencies.

A key feature of this album is the prominence of Mitski’s vocals — the production on her previous albums has drowned out her words, but in her newest release, her voice shines through to emphasize the importance of her lyrics. “Laurel Hell” focused on upbeat, rhythmic backings whereas her messages and vocals are the new focus, giving the listener a serene album to digest.

“The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” is a shattering listen — it is nothing short of a memorable comeback from her previous plans of retirement. In her vulnerability and incredible musicality, Mitski has gifted her fans with some of her most mesmerizing songs.

About the Contributor
Emma Liu
Emma Liu, Deputy Design Editor
Emma Liu is a second-year behavioral neuroscience and design major. She is currently working as the deputy design editor for The News. Originally from Philadelphia, Emma loves to collect sonny angels, volunteer at local orgs and find good food in her free time.
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