Mitski evokes a beautiful vision of a western wasteland in a near-perfect new album, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We”.
Mitski is known for viral tracks on TikTok like “Washing Machine Heart” and “Nobody”. In 2021, a TikTok dance trend was spun from “Washing Machine Heart” which every “sad girl” coated person was participating in.
The Asian-American artist reconciles part of her mixed identity in the album that she has dubbed her most American. Mitski’s “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” pulls inspiration from the sounds of the American west. Though her 2018 album is titled, “Be the Cowboy,” her latest release is the first time we have heard her work contain this sort of twang. Mitski guides the listener through Americana in all its ambiguity with her clear voice and bluesy sliding guitar.
This album is not spared from this treatment, with her song “My Love Mine All Mine” becoming an anthem for lovesick teens and young adults.
The opening track, “Bug Like an Angel,” is written from the perspective of an alcoholic and contains a gospel choir singing that sometimes a drink feels like family. A bug found at the bottom of the bottle saves the narrator from finishing the drink off. Mitski coos about curving about a lover like a brook in “Heaven.” She comments on her loyalty and reliance on songwriting as an outlet for her emotions in “I Don’t Like My Mind”— possibly a reflection on how she almost left the music industry a few years prior.
The ninth track off the album, “The Star”, is a glittering ballad about a love that has fizzled out. It leaves your heart cracked into pieces like the sandy soil of the desert. “I’m Your Man” is imbued with the environment of a campfire with simple acoustic guitar, crickets chirping and dogs yelping in the distance. The album returns indoors with “I Love Me After You,” in which Mitski sings about getting ready for bed alone, but still calls herself king of the land. Though the land is lonely, it is hers, and it is well-loved.
This album touches on loneliness and gluttony, but also self-love and the simple joy of being outside. It touches on the beauty of nature, but also that of passing cars. Flaws exist in everything, but so does beauty, and Mitski does not ignore that. In this album, loneliness can be a reason to spend extra time taking care of yourself, or a reason to gorge on an entire cake. In “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We,” the sound of a freight train can be just as beautiful as a stampede of buffalo.
Brooke Germain is the Design Editor at the Nevada Sagebrush. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BrookeSGermain.