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A dissection of “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” by Mitski

Mitskis seventh studio album, The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We, features many nature symbols, along with poetic lyrics. This album is preceded by Laurel Hell, the sixth album from the singer, which received acclaim from critics. The Land is Inhospitable and So are We has received unanimous praise from both fans and critics alike, as well as being home to My Love Mine All Mine, which is Mitskis highest performing song to date.
Layla Solomon
Mitski’s seventh studio album, “The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We,” features many nature symbols, along with poetic lyrics. This album is preceded by “Laurel Hell”, the sixth album from the singer, which received acclaim from critics. “The Land is Inhospitable and So are We” has received unanimous praise from both fans and critics alike, as well as being home to “My Love Mine All Mine,” which is Mitski’s highest performing song to date.

Singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki (known as ‘”Mitski”) has always been an extremely vulnerable lyricist, sharing not only her personal experiences through her music, but also heavy topics for listeners to find solace in. Her most recent album, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” is no exception to her discography. Covering themes of guilt, regret, desperation, loss and the emotional complications of love, Mitski moves away from the previous pop landscape of her last album, “Laurel Hell” to introduce gorgeous choir harmonies, soft vocalizations, organ patches and heavy guitar chords to paint a raw yet gentle ambiance for the album.

Released on Sep. 15, 2023, Mitski’s seventh studio album “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” features 11 tracks varying from dream-like synth backgrounds to heavy acoustic strumming. Throughout all the tracks, Mitski’s vocals remain echoey, accompanied by choir voices in many of the choruses, which are most prevalent in the first track, “Bug Like An Angel.” Also consistent throughout the album is poetic, compelling lyrics which are a staple of any Mitski song.

A dissection of “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” by Mitski
Track One: “Bug Like An Angel”

In this first song, Mitski uses themes of addiction to express regret. “As I get older, I learned I’m a drinker, sometimes a drink feels like family.” In the first line of verse one, she paints a picture of someone at a bar with some drink left in their glass. As they raise the glass to finish the drink, a bug is stuck on the bottom of the glass. Holding the drink up, they see the bug and mistake it for an angel in the sky, holding belief in something it is not.

Track Two: “Buffalo Replaced”

Surrounded by dreamy synth and folk elements to inspire the tone for the album, “Buffalo Replaced” tells the story of nature’s mosquitoes, fireflies and buffalos being replaced by modern machines, like highway cars and freight trains. “Freight train stampedin’ through my backyard, it’ll run across the plains like the new buffalo replaced.” The lyrics continue with environmental themes and end with gentle vocalizations.

Track Three: “Heaven”

This song takes a romantic approach, taking place in the time before and after making love with a partner. “All of our love, fillin’ all of our room,” comparing her body to an instrument, and the intimacy as music, “you find the string to strike within me that rings out a note heard in heaven.” In the second verse, Mitski compares more nature symbols to cozy body shapes, “bend like a willow… like a murmuring brook curving about you,” and emotions of longing after the lover has left. The track ends with a tender moment asking, “Can we stay awhile and listen?”

Track Four: “I Don’t Like My Mind”

In this track, Mitski tackles heavy themes such as compulsive overthinking, that many listeners can relate to. She utilizes the metaphor of her brain as an empty room, being constantly reminded with echoes of guilt and regret. Mitski shows in order to distract from the torment, “I blast music loud, and I work myself to the bone,” while also addressing heavier coping themes, like binge eating. “And on an inconvenient Christmas, I eat a cake … and then I get sick and throw up and there’s another memory that gets stuck,” conveying that no matter how she copes, every thought continues to stick. Desperation and the fear of loss develop in the final chorus where Mitski pleads “A whole cake, so please don’t take, take this job from me.” The entire song is reminiscent of a run-on sentence, the lyrical rhythm forming a panicked train of thought.

Track Five: “The Deal”

Mitski sets another dark scene, walking alone at midnight in verse one, contemplating a certain deal. In a rising instrumental chorus, it becomes clear that this deal is one with death, as she says “I want someone to take this soul, I can’t bear to keep it… And all I will take are the consequences,” expressing the heavy themes of suicide and guilt that are reprised in the bridge, “Your pain is eased but you’ll never be free, for now I’m taken, the night has me.” Mitski uses symbols of nighttime, darkness and ultimately “a deal” to beautifully express these raw feelings, alongside melancholic strings. “There’s a deal that I made” is repeated several times in the outro, before the final repetition is cut short to “There’s a deal,” and overtaken by cascading drums, where one can assume that the turmoil of the deal took over.

Track Six: “When Memories Snow”

Taking a break from the dense emotions of the previous tracks, “When Memories Snow” returns to the recurring nature theme, connecting the idea of memories as something that collects over time, like snow. Mitski revisits the concept of memories never disappearing, just as snow melts to become water “drippin’ through the downspout,” it’s the same “snow” resurfacing in a new form. Despite it being the shortest song on the album, the musicality is nothing short of gorgeous, with discordant piano block chords layered with organ patches, accompanied by sweeping strings and muted horns.

Track Seven: “My Love Mine All Mine”

Arguably the best song of the album, Mitski sings a beautiful ballad about the human ability to love the moon and its light, asking it to send her love after death, “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?” Essentially, her ability to love is the most important thing to her, even when struggling with the guilt of living. “Nothing in the world belongs to me but my love, mine, all mine, all mine.” She takes a solemn stance as she sings to the moon, repeating that her capacity for love is the only thing she alone can possess. It’s easy to imagine Mitski singing the chorus with a smile on her face. Verse two begins by describing love as a child, “my baby here on Earth,” strengthening that relationship as if it were a motherly one. It’s a tender, vulnerable but relatable track, paired with hypnotic vocals and a beautiful message, making it the most popular for good reason.

Track Eight: “The Frost”

“The Frost” explores loss and loneliness after the passing of a best friend. Memories are again symbolized by snow, or frost, as they collect and dust the entire world around Mitski, a reminder of what she has lost. There are dystopian elements as she sings, “After everyone’s long been gone but me, I was hiding, or forgotten, the only one left,” which further emphasize the isolation she feels as a result. “Now the world is mine alone with no one, no one to share the memory of frost out the window.” She laments about how cold the world becomes without anyone to share it with after “I lost my best friend … It’s just witness-less me.”

Track Nine: “Star”

The album’s second love song, although more bittersweet, examines “that love is like a star;” a beautiful form of light that eventually burns out, leaving a facade to shine ahead after its death. Mitski reminisces on ‘love at first sight’ that has lost its spark, “remember when we met? … we were so glad, so glad to have found it.” Now that the light and love is gone, it’s hard to simply get over it and move on, “I’ll keep a leftover light burnin’ so you can keep looking up, isn’t that worth holding on?” For many lovers, the remaining light from ended or failed relationships is desperately held on to in hopes of rekindling what once was. Mitski highlights this disbelief in the last chorus variation, “I’m yours, no matter …  I’ll keep a leftover light.” The metaphor of a dying star is perfect for a bittersweet end of a past relationship.

Track Ten: “I’m Your Man”

Returning to the soul-crushing songs, “I’m Your Man”—written from the perspective of Mitski’s own masculine voice in her head—explores self-conflict and its toxic effects within a relationship. The opening verse, “You’re an angel, I’m a dog, or you’re a dog and I’m your man,” implies complicated roles within the relationship, and neither partner is really quite sure of who or what they are to each other. Another issue expressed by Mitski is the fear of loss, and how it damages the sense of self-worth in this relationship, “No one will ever love me like you again so when you leave me, I should die, I deserve it, don’t I?” The only result of such deep personal conflicts and emotions is eventually the end of the relationship and the sense that she will ultimately betray her partner. “You believe me like a god, I betray you like a man.” The outro to the track includes a creative ambience: the sounds of dogs barking, crickets chirping and choir harmonies of “yo-ho.”

Track 11: “I Love Me After You”

As the finale to the album, “I Love Me After You” provides a more positive resolution to loving after a breakup. Mitski offers a carefree and confident mood, “brushing my hair naked … laughing in the mirror,” a noticeable difference from the deprecating elements in the other songs on the album. This attitude is repeated as feeling like the “king of all the land,” independent and free from anyone or anything. Streets are mine, the night is mine, all my own.” Rather than being obligated to a relationship, she is empowered to just love herself, and that’s enough. After such a heavily lyricized album, the uplifting message wraps the entire project to be left at the vertex of positive change, beckoning our own thoughts on what might come next.

Even with a new distinct musical sound, “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We” is still, very distinctly, a Mitski sound, with her poetic lyrics and gorgeous quality. With such a varied album, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly the main message could be. By tying folk and nature elements with deep, vulnerable human themes—guilt, desperation, the fear of loss and complication of love— Mitski highlights that with our ongoing destruction of not only what is around us, but ourselves too; the land is becoming inhospitable, and so are we.

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About the Contributor
Layla Solomon
Layla Solomon, Writer
Women love me, fish fear me.

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