Music Review

Mitski – The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We

todaySeptember 21, 2023 155

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By – Kristi Houk

Recommended if You Like: Doesn’t matter. Just listen to it.

Ok, everyone, we’re going to play a game. Every time Mitski Miyawaki mentions God, angels, or insects on her latest album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, you have to take a drink. 

Oh Mitski, you’ve managed to break my heart while falling in love with you all at the same time. That’s how love works, right? There’s pain in beauty and beauty in pain or something like that.  I have to admit something, dear reader(s), I was terrified to write this review. It’s not what you’re thinking though…It’s because the record is so GOOD that I felt pressure to do it justice. In a word, I froze.

But enough about me. We have a beautiful album to talk about. Here’s a question—What is your idea of heaven? I mean, there are a variety of options. Heaven could be nothing, it could be all rhinestones and gates, it could be, well, anything. Right now, at this moment, heaven for me is listening to The Land Is Inhospitable and so Are We. For Mitski  fans expecting a frenetic, rocking track list, you may need to settle in for something a bit more expansive, sprawling. More like a road trip out west that finds you stopping in strange yet familiar places. 

This go round, she is backed by a choir and full orchestra and it makes for some very cathartic, soulful listening. The opening track, “Bug Like an Angel” begins with just an acoustic guitar and a lilting vocal reminiscent of Hope Sandoval, you’re moving through the song thinking, oh this is nice, she’s sharing about a possible infatuation with booze, ok, sure. “Sometimes a drink feels like family.” And then out of nowhere, just to make sure we heard her correctly, this booming choir comes in with a resounding, haunting, “FAMILY.” A tad Neutral Milk Hotel with a shot of Polyphonic Spree.

The rest of the album weaves in and out of Mitski’s reflections on loss and love and what that means for personal relations as well as geographical relations. Her relation to the land as an Asian American.  Is love really hers? Is this land hers? It’s heavy, poetic stuff but at the same time, Mitski sings about fireflies, face toner and her pet taking a shit. Because, ultimately, it’s the everyday rituals that get us through. In an NPR interview Mitski expresses her feelings of otherness: she is trying to “reconcile all my various identities with being American,”. “I’m Asian American. I’m half white, half Asian. And so I don’t really fit into either community very well. I am an other in America, even though I am American.” 

On my favorite track, “Star” we are transported to space remembering that night we fell in love and thought it would last forever. Mitski understands that often it doesn’t but you’ll still keep that “leftover light burnin.’” 

I’m not kidding when I say this is quite possibly my album of the year. With The Land… she’s up there with the big dogs; Joni, Laura Nyro, Neil Young. 

Keep it up. 

Standout Tracks: All of ‘em

Written by: kristi houk

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